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^xi in Ancient 









X0ll»0ll: CIIAI'MAN AMI IIAIJ.. 1. 

lattHim : 

R. Clat, Sons, aotj Tatiob, 



• I 







§ I. The Graphic Processes employed by the Egyptians in their 

representations of Buildings i — 8 

§ 2. The Palace 8—26 

§ 3. The Egyptian House 26 — 38 

§ 4. Military Architecture 38 — 50 



§ I. An Analysis of Architectural Forms necessary 51 — 52 

§ 2. Materials 52 — 55 

§ 3. Construction • • • 55 — 76 

§ 4. The Arch 77—84 

§ 5. The Pier and Column. — ^The Egyptian Orders 85 — 133 

Their Origin 85 — 91 

General Types of Supports 91 — 133 

§ 6. The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades 133 — 147 

§ 7. Monumental Details 147 — 155 

§ 8. Doors and Windows 156 — 162 

Doors 156 — 161 

Windows 162 

§ 9. The Illumination of the Temples . 162 — 169 

§ lo. The Obelisks 169 — 176 

§ II. The Profession of Architect . . . . ; 176 — 179 

vi Contents. 




§ I. The Origin of Statue-making . i8o — 184 

§ 2. Sculpture under the Ancient Empire 184 — 225 

§ 3. Sculpture under the First Theban Empire 226 — 238 

§ 4. Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire 239 — 265 

§ 5. The Art of the Saite Period 265 — 274 

§ 6. The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture 275-^284 

§ 7. The Technique of the Bas-reliefs 284—288 

§ 8. Gems 288—291 

§ 9. The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture 291 — ^326 

§ 10. The General Characteristics of the Egyptian Style 326 — 330 



§ I. Technical Processes 331 — ^341 

§ 2. The Figure 341—351 

§ 3. Caricature 35^—355 

§ 4. Ornament 355—3^3 



§ I. Definition and Characteristics of Industrial Art 364 — 367 

§ 2. Glass and Pottery 367 — 377 

§ 3. Metal-work and Jewelry 377 — ^390 

§ 4. Woodwork 390 — 398 

§ 5. The Commerce of Egypt 399 — 400 




APPENDIX 409—416 

INDEX 417—434 



Thebes, the Pavilion of Medinet-Abou, restored To face page 24 

Portico in the temple of Medinet-Abou, restored „ 144 

Rahotep and Nefert, Boulak Museum ,, 186 

The Scribe^ Louvre „ 192 

The Queen Taia, Boulak Museum „ 240 

Funerary offerings, fragment of a painting upon plaster, Louvre „ 334 

Tomb of Ptah-hotep, fragment of Western Wall „ 356 

Tomb of Ptah-hotep, ceiling and upper part of Western Wall . „ 360 


1. House 3 

2. The adoration of the solar disk by Amenophis IV 6 

3. Egyptian plan of a villa 7 

4. Part of the plan of a house and its offices 9 

5. Partial restoration of a palace at Tell-el-Amarna 17 

6. Ground plan of the "Royal Pavilion" 19 

7. Plan of the first floor of the ** Royal Pavilion" 19 

8. Longitudinal section of the pavilion 19 

9. Transverse section of the pavilion 20 

10. Brackets in the courtyard of the Royal Pavilion 23 

11. Plan of a part of the city at Tell-el-Amarna : 29 

12. Bird's-eye view of a villa 31 

13. Model of an Egyptian house 34 

14 — 17. Plans of houses 34 

\ 18. Piece of furniture in the form of a house 35 

19. House from a Theban wall painting 35 

20. House with a tower 35 

21. Battlemented house 36 

22. Decorated porch 36 

23. House with inscription 36 

viii List of Illustrations. 


24. House, Storehouse, and garden 36 

25. Brewing ^ 37 

26. Granaries • . . 37 

27. Granaries ' 38 

28. Military post at Abydos 42 

29. Military post 42 

30. Bird's-eye view of the fortress of Semneh 43 

31. A besieged fort ■ 46 

32. Siege of a fortress 47 

33. Brick stamped with the royal ovals - . 54 

34. The Sarcophagus of Mycerinus i 57 

35. Door of a tomb at Sakkarah 60 

36. Stele from the fourth dynasty 61 

37. Stele from the fourth dynasty 62 

38. Flattened form of lotus-leaf ornament, seen in front and in section ... 63 

39. Lotus-leaf ornament in its elongated form 63 

40. Wooden pavilion . . 64 

41. Horizontal section, in perspective, of the first pylon at Karnak 67 

42. Workmen polishing a monolithic column 69 

43. Transport of a colossus 73 

44. Arch in the necropolis of Abydos 78 

45. Arch in El-Assassif *. 79 

46. Arch in El-Assassif 80 

47. Vaults in the Ramesseum 81 

48. Vault in the Ramesseum 81 

49. Elliptical vault 82 

50. Foundations with inverted segmental arches * 82 

51. Transverse section of a corridor at Dayr-el-Bahari 83 

52. Section in perspective through the same corridor 83 

53. Vaulted chapel at Abydos 84 

54. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 86 

55. Detail of capital 86 

56. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 87 

57. Details of columns in Fig. 56 87 

58. Pavilion from Sakkarah 87 

59. Details of columns in Fig. 58 87 

60. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 88 

61. Details of the columns 88 

62 — 65. Columns from bas-reliefs 89 

66. Quadrangular pier 92 

67. Tapering quadrangular pier 92 

68. Pier with capital 92 

69. Hathoric pier 92 

70. Osiride pillar 93 

71. Ornamented pier 94 

72. Octagonal pillar 96 

List of Illustrations. ix 


73. Sixteen-sided pillar 96 

74. Polygonal column with a flat vertical band 98 

75. Polygonal pier with mask of Hathor 98 

76. Column from Beni-Hassan 99 

77. Column at Luxor loi 

78. Column at Medinet-Abou loi 

79. Column at Medinet-Abou 102 

80. Column from the Great Hall at Karnak 103 

81. Column from the Hypostyle Hall of the Ramesseum 103 

82. Column of Soleb 104 

83. Column of Thothmes at Kamak 104 

84. Corner pier from the temple at Elephantind 106 

85. Pier with capital 107 

86. Osiride pier 109 

87. Hathoric pier from Eilithya iii 

88. Hathoric pier from a tomb iii 

89. Column at Kalabch^ 112 

90. Column of Thothmes III 113 

91. Base of a column 115 

92. Bell-shaped capital 117 

93. Capital at Sesebi 119 

94. Capital from the temple of Nectanebo, at Philae 119 

95. Capital from the work of Thothmes, at Karnak . . . 120 

96. Arrangement of architraves upon a capital 120 

97. The Nymphaea Nelumbo 123 

98. Papyrus plant 127 

99. Small chamber at Kamak 134 

100. Apartment in the temple at Luxor 134 

Id. Hall of the temple at Abydos 134 

102. Plan of part of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak 134 

103. Tomb at Sakkarah 135 

104. Hall in the inner portion of the Great Temple at Karnak ...... 135 

105. Portico of the first court at Medinet-Abou 135 

106. Portico of the first court at Luxor 135 

107. The portico of the pronaos, Luxor 136 

108. Part plan of the temple at Elephantine 136 

109. Luxor, plan of the second court 136 

no. Portico in the Temple of Khons 137 

111. Luxor, portico of the first court 137 

112. Part of the portico of the first court, Luxor 138 

113. Portico in fi-ont of the facade of the temple of Gournah 138 

114. Part of the Hypostyle Hall in the Great Temple at Karnak 138 

115. Second Hypostyle Hall in the temple of Abydos 139 

116. Hall in the speos of Gherf-Hossein 139 

117. Medinet-Abou; first court 139 

118. Medinet-Abou; second court 139 

VOL. II. b 

List of Illustrations. 


119. Portico of the Temple of Khons 140 

120. Portico of first court at Luxor 140 

121. Anta, Luxor 141 

122. Anta, Gournah 141 

123. Anta, Medinet-Abou 141 

124. Anta in the Great Hall of Karnak 141 

125. Antae, Temple of Khons 142 

126. Anta and base of pylon, Temple of Khons 142 

127. Antse, Medinet-Abou 143 

128. Antae, Medinet-Abou 143 

129. Anta and column at Medinet-Abou 145 

130. Column in the court of the Bubastides 146 

131. Stereobate 148 

132. Stereobate with double plinth 148 

133. PJuteus in the intercolumniations of the portico in the second court of 

the Ramesseum 150 

134. Doorway 151 

135. Cornice of the Ramesseum 152 

136. Cornice of a wooden pavilion ' 152 

137. Pedestal of a Sphinx 153 

138. Cornice under the portico 153 

139. Fragment of a sarcophagus 154 

140. Fragment of decoration from a royal tomb at Thebes 154 

141. Plan of doorway, Temple of Elephantine 157 

142. Plan of doorway, Temple of Khons 157 

143. Plan of doorway in the pylon, Temple of Khons 157 

144. 145. The pylon and propylon of the hieroglyphs 157 

146. Gateway to the court-yard of the small Temple at Medinet-Abou ... 158 

147. A propylon with its masts . 158 

148. A propylon 159 

149. Gateway in the inclosing wall of a Temple 159 

150. Doorway of the Temple of Khons 160 

151. Doorway of the Temple of Gournah 160 

152. Doorway of the Temple of Seti 161 

153,154. Windows in the Royal Pavilion at Medinet-Abou 162 

155. Attic of the Great Hall at Karnak 163 

156. C/flr«f/ra of the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak 165 

157. Claustra in the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Khons 166 

158. Method of lighting in one of the inner halls of Karnak 167 

159. Auxiliary light-holes in the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak 167 

160. Method of lighting one of the rooms in the Temple of Khons . . . . 167 

161. Light openings in a lateral aisle of the Hypostyle Hall in the Ramesseum 168 

162. The Temple of Amada 168 

163. Claustra 168 

164. Window of a house in the form of r/<fx«j/AV7 ." 169 

165. Window closed by a mat 169 

List of Illustrations. xi 


i66. Funerary obelisk 171 

167. The obelisk of Ousourtesen 173 

1 68. The obelisk in the Place de la Concorde 173 

169. The obelisk of Beggig 175 

170. Upper part of the obelisk at Beggig 175 

171. Limestone statue of the architect Nefer 177 

172. Sepa and Nesa 186 

173. Ra-hotep 188 

174 — 176. Wooden panels from the tomb of Hosi 191, 193, 195 

177. Limestone head 196 

178. Wooden statue 198 

179. Bronze statuette 199 

180. Bronze statuette 201 

181. Ra-nefer 204 

182. Statue in the Boulak Museum 205 

183. Statue of Ti 205 

184. Wooden statue 206 

185. Statue in limestone 206 

186. Limestone group 207 

187. Wooden statuette 208 

188. Nefer-hotep and Tenteta 208 

189. Limestone statue 209 

190. Limestone statue 209 

191. Limestone statue 210 

192. Limestone statue * 210 

193. Woman kneading dough 211 

194. Woman making bread 212 

195. Bread maker 213 

196. 197. Details of head-dresses 213 

198, 199. Nem-hotep 214 

200. Funerary bas-relief 215 

201. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 217 

202. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 218 

203. Sepulchral bas-relief 219 

204. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ra-ka-pou 219 

205. Statue of Chephren 222 

206. Wooden statue 227 

207. Sebek-hotep III 229 

208. Sphinx in black granite 23 1 

209. Head and shoulders of a Tanite Sphinx in black granite 233 

210. Group from Tanis 234 

211. Side view of the same group 235 

212. Upper part of a royal statue 236 

213. Fragmentary statuette of a king 237 

214. Thothmes III 241 

215. Thothmes III 243 

xii List of Illustrations. 


2i6. Statuette of Amenophis IV 245 

217. Funeral Dance 251 

218. Bas-relief from the tomb of Chamhati 253 

219. Portrait of Rameses IL while a child 255 

220. Statue of Rameses II 256 

221. Prisoners of war 257 

222. Statue of Rameses II. in the Turin Museum 259 

223. Head of Menephtah 260 

224. Seti II 261 

225. The Goddess Kadesh 263 

226. Statue of Ameneritis 264 

227. Bronze Sphinx 267 

228. Statue of Nekht-har-heb 268 

229. Statue of Horus 269 

230. 231. Bas-relief from Memphis 270, 271 

232. Horus enthroned 273 

233. Roman head '. 274 

234. Wooden statuette 279 

235. Bronze cat 280 

236. Lion 281 

237. Bronze lion 282 

238. Sphinx with human hands 283 

239. Quadruped with the head of a bird 284 

240. Portrait of Rameses II 286 

241. Intaglio upon sardonyx, obverse 289 

242. Reverse of the same intaglio 289 

243. Intaglio upon jasper 290 

244. Reverse of the same intaglio 290 

245. Seal of Armais 290 

246. Bas-relief from Sakkarah 295 

247. The Queen waiting on Amenophis IV 296 

248. Bas-relief from the eighteenth dynasty 297 

249. Horus as a child 299 

250. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 306 

251. Bas-relief at Thebes 307 

252. From a painting at Thebes 308 

253. Painting at Thebes 309 

254. Painting,at Thebes 310 

255. Painting at Thebes 311 

256. Bronze statuette 312 

257. Spoon for perfumes 313 

258. Design transferred by squaring 320 

259. Design transferred by squaring 321 

260. Head of a Cynocephalus 323 

261. Head of a Lion 323 

262. Head of a Lioness 323 

List of Illustrations. xiii 


263. Outline for a portrait of Amenophis III 333 

264. Portrait of Queen Taia 339 

265. Painting at Beni-Hassan 341 

266. Painting at Beni-Hassan 342 

267. Painting at Beni-Hassan 342 

268. Painting at Beni-Hassan 343 

269. Painting at Thebes 343 

270. Painting at Thebes 344 

271. Harpist 345 

272. European prisoner 347 

273. Head of the same prisoner 347 

274. Ethiopian prisoner 348 

275. Head of the same prisoner 348 

276. Winged figure 349 

277. Winged figure 350 

278. Battle of the Cats and Rats 352 

279. The soles of a pair of sandals '. 354 

280. 281. The God Bes 354 

282. Vultures on a ceiling 356 

283, 284. Details from the tomb of Ptah-hotep 357 

285. Carpet hung across a pavilion 358 

286. Specimens of ceiling decorations 359 

287. Painting on a mummy case 361 

288. Winged globe 361 

289. 290. Tables for oflferings 363 

291. Pitcher of red earth 368 

292. Red earthenware 369 

293. Gray earthenware 370 

294. The God Bes 370 

295. Pendant for necklace 371 

296. 297. Enamelled earthenware 371 

298. Enamelled faience 372 

299. Doorway in the Stepped Pyramid at Sakkarah 372 

300 — 302. Enamelled plaque from the Stepped Pyramid 373 

303 — 305. Enamelled earthenware plaques 374 

306, 307 Glass statuettes 376 

308. Mirror-handle 379 

309. Bronze hair-pin •. • • - 379 

310. Bronze dagger 379 

311. Pectoral 381 

312. 313. Golden Hawks 382 

314. ^gis 383 

315. Necklace 385 

316. Osiris, Isis, and Horus 387 

317. 318. Rings 387 

319,320. Ear-rings 387 

XIV List of Illustrations. 


321. Ivory Plaque 388 

322. Ivory Castanet 389 

323. Fragment of an Ivory Castanet 391 

324. Workman splitting a piece of wood 392 

325. Joiner making a bed 392 

326. Coffer for sepulchral statuettes 393 

327. 328. Chairs 394 

329 — ^331. Perfume spoons 395, 396 

332 — 334. Walking-stick handles 397 

335. Wooden pin or peg 398 

336. Hathoric capital 398 






If - 









Egyptian Perspective. 

le arrival of the guests. On the right we have one of the lateral 
ices ; it is pierced at one angle by a low door, above which are 
vo windows and above them again an open story or terrace 
ith slender columns supporting the roof. Still further to the 
ght, at the extremity of the picture, the second narrow facade 
; sh'ghtly indicated by its angle column and a portal," which 
ppears to be sketched in profile. Want of space alone seems to 
ave prevented the artist from giving as much detail to this 
ortion of his work as to the rest. The left wing, that which is 
Dntiguous to the garden, remains to be considered. Those who 
Ejree with our interpretation of the artist's aims, will look upon 
lis as the second lateral facade. It presents some difficulty, 
owever, because it shows none of the plain walls which inclose 
le rest of the building and exclude the eye of the spectator ; 
s walls are left out and leave the interior of the house completely 

It may be said that this part of the picture represents an 
tvning or veranda in front of the house. But, in that case, how 
re we to explain the objects which are arranged at the top of 
— jars, loaves of bread, and other house-keeping necessaries .'' 
: cannot be a veranda with a granary on the top of it. Such 
store-room would have to be carefully closed if its contents were 
) be safe-guarded from the effects of heat, light, and insects. 
: would therefore be necessary to suppose that the Egyptian 
sinter made use of an artistic license not unknown in our 
wn days, and suppressed the wall of the store-room in order to 
isplay the wealth of the establishment. By this means he 
as given us a longitudinal section of the building very near the 
eternal wall. Tiiere is no trace of an open story above. The 
tter seems to have existed only on that side of the house 
hich was in shade during the day and exposed after nightfall 
) the refreshing breezes from the north. 

This picture presents us, then, with a peculiar kind of elevation ; 
1 elevation which, by projection, shows three sides of the house 
id hints at a fourth. Representations which are still more 
mventionalized than this are to be found in many places. The 
lost curious of these are to be found in the ruins of the capital 
f Amenophis IV., near the village of Tell-el-Amarna. It was in 
lat city that the heretical prince in question inaugurated the 
orship of the solar disc, which was represented as darting rays 

1 the 
; ve a 

6 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

terminating in an open hand (see Fig. 2). Among these ruins 
we find, upon the sculptured walls of subterranean chambers, 
representations of royal and princely villas, where elegant 
pavilions are surrounded by vast offices and dependencies, by 
gardens and pieces of ornamental water, the whole being inclosed 
by a crenellated wall. These representations were called by Prisse 
plans cavaliers, a vague term which hardly gives a fair idea of 
the process, which deserves to be analysed and explained. 

They are, as a fact, plans, but plans made upon a very different 
principle from those of our day. Certain elements, such as walls, 
are indicated by simple lines varying in thickness, just as they 

—The kdoration of i 

IE soUr disk by Amenophis IV. ; from Prisse. 

might be in a modern plan, giving such a result as would be 
obtained by a horizontal section. But this is the exception. The 
houses, the trees, and everything with any considerable height, are 
shown in projection, as they might appear to the eye of a bird 
flying over them if they had been overthrown by some considerate 
earthquake, which had laid them flat without doing them any other 
injury. As a rule all objects so treated are projected in one and 
the same direction, but here and there exceptions to this are found. 
In a country villa figured upon one of the tombs at Thebes 
(Fig. 3), one row of trees, that upon the right, is projected at right 
angles to all the others. The reason for this change in the artist's 

Egyptian Plans. 

system is easily seen. Unless he had placed his trees in the 
fashion shown in the cut, he would not have been able to give a 
true idea of their number and of the shade which they were 
calculated to afford. 

The process which we have just described is the dominant 
process in Egyptian figuration. Here and there, as in Fig. i, 
it is combined with the vertical section. This combination is 
conspicuous in the plan found at Tell-el-Amarna, from which we 
have restored the larger of the two villas which we illustrate 
farther on. In this plan, as in the case of the Theban house 
figured on page 3. the artist has been careful, to show that 

Fio. 3. — E|fyptiia plan of a villa ; Troin Wilkinson, vol. i. p. 377. 

there was no want of provision in the house ; the wall of the 
store-room is omitted, and the interior, with its rows of amphora, 
is thrown open to our inspection. 

No scale is given in any of these plans, so that we are unable 
to determine either the extent of ground occupied by the build- 
ings and their annexes, or their absolute height. But spaces and 
heights seem to have been kept in just proportion. The Egyptian 
draughtsman was prepared for the execution of such a task by 
education and the traditions of his art, and his eye seems to have 
been trustworthy. 

Accustomed as we are to accuracy and exactitude in such 
matters, these Eg>'ptiaii plans disconcert us at first by their 

8 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

mixture of conscience and carelessness, artlessness and skill, by 
their simultaneous employment of methods which are contradictory 
in principle. In the end, however, we arrive at a complete under- 
standing with the Egyptian draughtsman, and we are enabled to 
transcribe into our own language that which he has painfully 
written with the limited means at his command. In the two 
restorations of an Egyptian bouse which we have attempted, there 
is no arrangement of any importance that is not to be found in the 
original plan. 

§ 2. TJie Palace. 

Their tombs and temples give us a great idea of the taste and 
wealth of the Egyptian monarchs. We are tempted to believe 
that their palaces, by their extent and the luxury of their decora- 
tion, must have been worthy of the tombs which they prepared for 
their own occupation, and the temples which they erected in honour 
of the gods to whom, as they believed, they owed their glory and 
prosperity. The imagination places the great sovereigns who 
constructed the pyramids, the rock tombs of Thebes, the temples 
of Luxor and Karnak, in splendid palaces constructed of the finest 
materials which their country afforded. 

Impelled by this idea, the earlier visitors to Egypt saw palaces 
everywhere. They called everything which was imposing in size 
a palace, except the pyramids and the subterranean excavatjons. 
The authors of the Description de T Ef;ypte thought that Karnak 
and Luxor, Medinet-Abou, and Gournah, were royal dwellings. 
Such titles as the Palace of Menephtah, applied to the temple of 
Seti, at Gournah, have been handed down to our day, and are to 
be found in works of quite recent date, such as Fergusson s 
History of Architecture ^ 

Since the time of Chainpollion, a more attentive study of the 
existing remains, and especially of the inscriptions which they 
bear, has dissipated that error ; egyptologists are now in accord 
as to the religious character of the great Theban buildings on 
either bank of the river. But while admitting this, there are 
some archaeologists who have not been able to clear their minds 

* Fergusson (in Vol. i. p. ii8, of his History of Architecture in all Countries^ 
etc.) proposes that Karnak should be called a Palace-Temple^ or Temple-Palace, 



The Palace. i i 

entirely of an idea which was so long dominant. They contend 
that the royal habitation must have been an annexe to the temple, 
and both at Karnak and Luxor they seek to find it in those ill- 
preserved chambers which may be traced behind the sanctuaries. 
There the king must have had his dwelling, and his life must have 
been passed in the courts and hypostyle halls.^ 

Among all the inscriptions which have been discovered in the 
chambers in question there is not one which supports such an 
hypothesis. Neither in the remains of Egyptian literature, nor in 
the works of the Greek historians, is there a passage to be found 
which tends to show that the king lived in the temple or its 
dependencies, or that his palace was within the sacred inclosure 
at all. 

There is another argument which is, perhaps, even more con- 
clusive than that from the silence of the texts. How can we 
believe that the kings of such a pleasure-loving and light-hearted 
race as the ancient Egyptians took up their residence in quarters 
so dark and so rigidly inclosed. Their dispositions cannot have 
differed very greatly from those of their subjects, and no phrase 
is more often repeated in the texts than this : to live a happy day. 
The palace must have been a pleasant dwelling, a place of repose ; 
and nothing could be better fitted for such a purpose than the 
light and spacious edifices which lay outside the city, in the midst 
of large and shady gardens, upon the banks of the Nile itself, or 
of one of those canals which carried its waters to the borders 
of the desert. From their high balconies, galleries, or covered 
terraces, the eye could roam freely over the neighbouring planta- 
tions, over the course of the river and the fields which it irrigated, 
and out to the mountains which shut in the horizon. The windows 
were large, and movable blinds, which may be distinguished in 
some of the paintings, allowed the chambers to be either thrown 
open to the breeze or darkened from the noonday sun, as occasion 
arose. That shelter which is so grateful in all hot climates was 
also to be found outside, in the broad shadows cast by the sycamores 
and planes which grew around artificial basins garnished with the 
brilliant flowers of the lotus, in the shadows of the spring foliage 
hanging upon the trellised fruit-trees, or in the open kiosques 
which were reared here and there upon the banks of the lakes. 
There, behind the shelter of walls and hedges, and among his 

^ Du Barrv de MERVi»L, j^tudes sur t Architecture igyptienne (1875), p. 271. 

12 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Wives and children, the king could taste some of the joys of 
domesticity. In such a retreat a Thothmes or a Rameses could 
abandon himself to the simple joy of living, and, might forget for 
a time both the fatigues of yesterday and the cares of to-morrow ; 
as the modern Egyptians would say, he could enjoy his ^le/. 

In such architecture as this, in which everything was designed 
to serve the pleasures of the moment, there was no necessity for 
stone. The solidity and durability of limestone, sandstone, and 
granite, were required in the tomb, the eternal dwelling, or for the 
temples, the homes of the gods. But the palace was no more 
than a pleasure marquee, it required no material more durable 
than wood or brick. Painters and sculptors were charged to 
cover its walls with lively colours and smiling images ; it was 
their business to decorate the stucco of the walls, the planks of 
acacia, and the slender columns of cedar and palmwood with 
the most brilliant hues on their palettes and with gold. The 
ornamentation was as lavish as in the tombs, although in the 

latter case it had a much better chance of duration. The palaces 
of the Egyptian sovereigns were worthy of their wealth and 
power, but the comparative slightness of their materials led to 
their early disappearance, and no trace of them is left upon the 
soil of Egypt. 

During the whole period of which we have any record, the East 
has changed but little, in spite of the apparent diversity between the 
successive races, empires, and religions which have prevailed in it. 
We know how vast an array of servants and followers Oriental 
royalty or grandeeship involves. The konak of the most insig- 
nificant bey or pacha shelters a whole army of servants, each one 
of whom does as little work as possible. The domestics of the 
Sultan at Constantinople, or of the Shah at Teheran, are to be 
counted by thousands. No one knows the exact number of 
eunuchs, cooks, grooms, and sweepers, of atechdjis, cafedjis, and 
tchiboukdjis, which their seraglios contain. Such a domestic 
establishment implies an extraordinary provision of lodgings of 
some sort, as well as an extensive accumulation of stores. Great 
storehouses were required where the more or less voluntary gifts of 
the people, the tributes in kind of conquered nations, and the crops 
produced by the huge estates attached to the Crown, could be ware- 
housed. In the vast inclosures whose arrangements are preserved 
for us by the paintings at Tell-el-Amarna there was room for all these 

The Palace. 13 

offices and granaries. They were built round courtyards which 
were arranged in long succession on all four sides of the principal 
building in which the sovereign and his family dwelt. When, in 
the course of a long reign, the family of the king became very 
numerous (Rameses II. had a hundred and seventy children, fifty- 
nine of whom were sons), and it became necessary to provide 
accommodation for them in the royal dwelling, it was easy to 
encroach upon the surrounding country, and to extend both 
buildings and gardens at will. 

Although the great inclosure at Karnak was spacious enough 
for its purpose, the families of the Pharaohs would hardly have 
had elbow room in it. They would soon have felt the restraint 
of the high and impassable barriers insupportable, and the space 
within them too narrow for their pursuits. The palaces of the 
East have always required wider and more flexible limits than 
these. If we examine their general aspect we shall find it the 
same from the banks of the Ganges to those of the Bosphorus. 
The climate, the harem, and the extreme' subdivision of labour, 
gave, and still gives, a multiplex and diffiise character to royal and 
princely dwellings ; memories of Susa and Persepolis, of Babylon 
and Nineveh, agree in this with the actual condition of the old 
palaces at Agra, Delhi, and Constantinople. They were not com- 
posed, like the modern palaces of the West, of a single homo- 
geneous edifice which can be embraced at a glance ; they in no way 
resembled the Tuileries or Versailles.^ They consisted of many 
structures of unequal importance, built at different times and by 
different princes ; their pavilions were separated by gardens and 
courts ; they formed a kind of royal village or town, surrounded 
and guarded by a high wall- In that part of the interior nearest 
the entrance there were richly-decorated halls, in which the 
sovereign condescended to sit enthroned at stated times, to 
receive the homage of his subjects and of foreign ambassadors. 
Around these chambers, which were open to a certain number 
of privileged individuals, swarmed a whole population of officers, 
soldiers, and servants of all kinds. This part of the palace was 

* The contrast between the palaces of the East and Versailles is hardly so strong 
as M. Perrot seems to suggest. The curious assemblage of buildings of different 
ages and styles which forms the eastern facade of the dwelling of Louis XIV. 
does not greatly differ in essentials from the. confused piles of Delhi or the old 
Seraglio. — Ed. 

T4 A History of Art in Ancient Eg\tt. 

a repetition on a far larger scale of the silamlik of an Oriental 
dwelling. The harem lay farther on, behind gates which were 
jealously guarded. In it the king passed his time when he was 
not occupied with war, with the chase, or with the affairs of state. 
Between the buildings there was space and air enough to allow of 
the king s remaining for months, or years if he chose, within the 
boundary walls of his palace ; he could review his troops in the 
vast courtyards ; he could ride, drive, or walk on foot in the shady 
gardens ; he could bathe in the artificial lakes and bath-houses. 
Sometimes even hunting-grounds were included within the outer 

These facilities and easy pleasures have always been a dangerous 
temptation for Oriental princes. A long list might be formed of 
those dynasties which, after beginning by a display of singular 
energy and resource, were at last enfeebled and overwhelmed in 
the pleasures of the palace. By those pleasures they became 
so completely enervated that at last a time came when the long 
descended heir of a linfe of conquerors was hurled from his throne 
by the slightest shock. The tragic history of Sardanapalus, which 
has inspired so many poets and historians, is a case in point. 
Modern criticism has attacked it ruthlessly; names, dates, and 
facts have all been placed in doubt ; but even if the falsehood 
of every detail could be demonstrated, it would yet retain that 
superior kind of truth which springs from its general applicability — 
a truth in which the real value of the legend consists. Almost 
all the royal dynasties of the East ended in a Sardanapalus, for he 
was nothing more than the victim of the sedentary and luxurious 
existence passed in an Oriental palace. 

If we knew more about the internal history of Egypt, we 
should doubtless find that such phenomena were not singular in 
that country. The Rammesides must have owed their fall and 
disappearance to it. The Egyptian palace cannot have differed 
very greatly from the type we have described, all the character- 
istic features of which are to be recognised in those edifices 
which have hitherto been called villas.^ There was the same 

* Nestor L'Hote — a fine connoisseur, who often divined facts which were not 
finally demonstrated until after his visit to Egypt — also received this impression 
from his examination of the remains at Tell-el-Amama : " Details no less interesting 
make us acquainted with the general arrangement .... of the king's palaces, the 
porticos and propylsea. by which they were approached, the inner chambers, the 

The Palace. 15 

amplitude of lateral development. We have not space to give a 
restoration of the most important of the " villas" figured at Tell- 
el-Amarna in its entirety ; but we give enough (Fig. 4) to 
suggest the great assemblage of buildings, which, when complete, 
must have covered a vast space of ground (Fig. 5). By its 
variety, by its alternation of courts and gardens with buildings 
surrounded here by stone colonnades, there by lighter wooden 
verandahs, this palace evidently belongs to the same family as 
other Oriental palaces of later times* Within its wide enciente the 
sovereign could enjoy all the pleasures of the open country while 
living either in his capital or in its immediate neighbourhood ; he 
could satisfy all his wishes and desires without moving from 
the spot. 

We have chosen for restoration that part of the royal dwelling 
which corresponds to what is called, in the East, the s61amlik, and 
in the West, the reception-rooms. A structure stands before the 
entrance the purpose of which cannot readily be decided. It 
might be a reservoir for the use of the palace inmates, or it might 
be a guard-house ; the question must be left open. Behind this 
structure there is a door between two towers with inclined walls, 
forming a kind of pylon. There is a narrower doorway near each 
angle. All three of these entrances open upon a vast rectangular 
court, which is inclosed laterally by two rows of chambers and at 
the back by a repetition of the front wall and three doorways 
already described. This courtyard incloses a smaller one, which 
is prefaced by a deep colonnaded portico, and incloses an open 
hall raised considerably above the level of the two courts. The 
steps by which this hall is reached are clearly shown upon the plan. 
In the middle of it there is a small structure, which may be one 
of those tribune-like altars which are represented upon some of 
the bas-reliefs. Nestor L'Hdte gives a sketch of one of these 
reliefs. It shows a man standing upon a dais with a pile of 
offerings before him. The same writer describes some existing 
remains of a similar structure at Karnak : it is a quadrilateral 
block, to which access was obtained by an inclined plane.^ 

store-houses and offices, the courts, gardens, and artificial lakes ; everything, in fact, 
which went to make up the royal dwelling-place." Lettres icrites d*Egypte (in 
1838-9 ; 8vo, 1840) ; pp. 64-65. 

^ Lettres ecrites (TJ^gypte, p. 62. In some other plans from Tell-el-Amarna, given 
by Prisse, several of these altars are given upon a larger scale, showing the offerings 
with which they are heaped. One of them has a flight of steps leading up to it. 

1 6 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Perhaps the king accomplished some of the religious ceremonies 
which were among his duties at this point. In order to arrive 
at the altar from without, three successive gates and boundary 
walls had to be passed, so that the safety of the sovereign was 
well guarded. 

Upon the Egyptian plan, which forms a basis for these remarks, 
there is, on the right of the nest of buildings just described, another 
of more simple arrangement but of still larger extent. There is 
no apparent communication between the two ; they are, indeed, 
separated by a grove of trees. In front of this second assemblage 
of buildings there is the same rectangular structure of doubtful 
purpose, and the same quasi-pylon that we find before the first. 
Behind the pylon there is a court surrounded on three sides by a 
double row of apartments, some of which communicate directly 
with the court, others through an intervening portico. Doubtless, 
this court was the harem in which the king lived with his wives 
and children. Ranged round courts in its rear are storehouses, 
stables, cattle-stables, and other offices, with gardens again beyond 
them. The finest garden lies immediately behind the block of 
buildings first described, and is shown in our restoration (Fig. 5). 
Here and there rise jight pavilions, whose wooden structure may 
be divined from the details given by the draughtsman. Colon^ 
nades, under which the crowds of servants and underlings could 
find shelter at night, pervade the whole building. The domestic 
offices are partly shown in our figure. As to the reception halls (the 
part of the building which would now be called the divan)^ we find 
nothing that can be identified with them in any of the plans which 
we have inspected. But it must be remembered that the repre- 
sentations in question are greatly mutilated, and that hitherto they 
have only been reproduced and published in fragmentary fashion. 

We have now sketched the Egyptian palace as it must have 
been according to all historic probability, and according to the 
graphic representations left to us by the people themselves. 
Those of our readers who have followed our arguments atten- 
tively, will readily understand that we altogether refuse to see the 
remains of a palace, properly speaking, in the ruin which has been 
so often drawn and photographed as the Royal Pavilion of Medi- 
net'AboUy or the Pavilion of Rameses 1 11.^ It would be difficult 

.^. In this we are supported by the opinions of Mariette {Itintraire^ p. 213) and 
Ebers (;VAgyp.te, du Caire (i PhiloSy p. 317). 

Fio. J.— Paititl restoration of s palace at Tdl-cl-Amaro* ; bji Charles Chii»a. 

The Palace. 


to convey by words alone a true idea of this elegant and singular 
building. We therefore give two plans (Figs. 6 and 7), 
a longitudinal and a transverse section (Figs. 8 and 9), and 

a restoration in perspective (Plate VII.). To those coming from 
the plain the first thing encountered was a pair of lodges for 
guards, with battlements round their summits like the pavilion itself 

Fic 8. — Longitudiiul section of Ibe pavilion ; restured. 

and its surrounding walls. The barrier which is shown in our 
plate between the two lodges is restored from a painting at 
Thebes, but the two half piers which support its extremities 

20 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

are still in existence. The pavilion itself consists of a main 
block with tivo lofty wings standing out perpendicularly to its 
front. The walls of these wings are inclined, and there is a 
passage through the centre of the block. There are three stories 
in all, which communicate with one another by a staircase. 

This pavilion is entirely covered with bas-reliefs and hiero- 
glyphic texts. The best way to solve the problem which it offers is 
to accept the teaching of history, and of all that we know con- 
cerning the persistent characteristics of royal life in the East. 
Even in our own day there are few eastern potentates who do not 
think it necessary to lay down, on the day after their accession, 
the foundations of a new palace. The Syrian Emir Beschir did 
so at Beit-el-din in the Lebanon, and 
Djezzar-Pacha another at St. Jean 
d'Acre ; so too, in Egypt, Mehemet 
Ali and his successors built palaces 
at Choubra and other places in the 
neighbourhood of Cairo and Alex- 
andria, At Constantinople recent 
Sultans have spent upon building 
the last resources of their empire. In 
these matters the East is the home of 
change. The son seldom inhabits the 
dwelhng of his father. The Pharaohs 
and the kings of Nineveh and Babylon 
. , ^ must have been touched to some 

riG. 9- — Tnnsverse section of ihe .11 

piviiioo; restored. extent With the Same mania and eager 

to enjoy the results of their labour at 
the earliest moment. The sovereigns of Eg>'pt must have chosen 
the sites for their palaces within the zone covered by the annual 
inundations. In any part of Egypt forced labour would rapidly 
build up the artificial banks necessary to raise the intended build- 
ings above the reach of the highest floods, while in such a situation 
trees and shrubs would grow almo-st as fast as the palace walls. 
In a few years the royal dwelling would be complete, and with its 
completion would find itself surrounded by smiling parterres and 
shadowy groves. 

When the whole of the fertile plain was at their disposal, why 
should they have chosen a site where no vegetation could be 
reared without the help of the sakyek and the shadouf? Why 

The Palace. 21 

should they, of their own free will, have built their dwellings close 
to those cliffs in the Libyan chain which give off at night the heat 
they have absorbed from the sun during the day ? The buildings 
of Medinet-Abou are immediately at the foot of the hill Gournet- 
el'Mourrai, which detaches itself from the chain near the southern 
extremity of the Theban necropolis, and thrusts itself forward, like a 
cape into the sea, towards the outer limits of the cultivated ground. 

We should not have looked for a palace in such a situation. 
We may add that the site of the pavilion is not large enough to 
accommodate the household of a king. It is closely circumscribed 
by the temple of Thothmes and its propylaea on the right, and by 
that of Rameses at the back, so that its dimensions would have 
seemed even more insignificant than they are in comparison with 
those gigantic fabrics. The greatest width of the pavilion is not 
more than about 80 feet and its greatest depth than 72, and the small 
court which almost cuts the building into two parts (see Fig. 6) 
occupies a good third of the surface inclosed by these measure- 
ments. Taken altogether, the three stories could not have 
contained more than about ten chambers, some of which were 
rather closets than anything more ambitious. In spite of the 
comparative simplicity of modern domestic arrangements a middle- 
class family of our day would be cramped in such a dwelling. 
How then could a Pharaoh, with the swarm of idlers who 
surrounded him, attempt to take up his residence in it 'i 

What, then, are we to call the little edifice which stands in 
front of the temple of Rameses II. ? Is it a temple raised by the 
conqueror in his own honour "i If we examine the bas-reliefs 
which decorate it both within and without, we shall see that it 
thoroughly deserves the name of Pavilion Royal which the French 
savants gave to it. The personality of Rameses fills it from roof 
to basement. In the interior we find him at home, in his harem, 
among his wives and children. Here one of his daughters brings 
him flowers of which he tastes the scent ; there we see him playing 
draughts with another daughter, or receiving fruit from the hands 
of a third, whose chin he playfully caresses. Upon the external 
walls there are battle scenes. Aided by his father, Amen, Rameses 
overthrows his enemies. With wonderful technical precision the 
sculptor has given to each figure its distinguishing costume, 
weapons, and features. The triumph of the king is complete ; 
none of his adversaries can stand before him. 

22 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

. May we not seek the explanation which the arrangements of the 
building fail to suggest, in this perpetual recurrence of the royal 
image, figured in all the public and private occupations in which 
the life of the monarch was passed ? The way in which it per- 
vades the whole structure ought to be enough to convince us that 
the pavilion, like the adjoining temple, is nothing but a monument 
to his prowess. It is an ingenious and brilliant addition to the public 
part of the tomb, to the cenotaph. In other buildings of the same 
kind the temple, with its courts and pylons, is everything ; but here, 
as if to distinguish his cenotaph from those of his predecessors 
and to impress posterity with a higher notion of his power and 
magnificence, Rameses has chosen to add a building which groups 
happily with it and serves as a kind of vestibule. It is difficult 
to say whence he borrowed the form of this unique edifice. 
Perhaps from one of the numerous pavilions which went to make 
up a pharaonic palace. Such, however, was not the opinion of 
Mariette, who discusses the question more than once. His final 
opinion was as follows : " The general architectural lines of this 
pavilion of Rameses, especially when seen from some distance, 
agree with those of the triumphal towers (ntigdol) which are 
represented in the bas-reliefs of Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum, 
and Medinet-Abou. These towers were erected on the frontiers 
of the country by the Egyptian monarchs, where they served both 
as defensive works and as memorials of the national victories. 
The royal pavilion of Medinet-Abou was, therefore, a work of 
military rather than of civil architecture." ^ The warrior-king 
par excellence could not have preserved his memory green in the 
minds of his subjects by any more characteristic monument.^ 

But whether it is to be considered a palace or a fortress, this 
is the proper place to study the details of this curious edifice. 
It forms, indeed, part of an assemblage of funerary buildings, and 
its situation is immediately in front of a temple, facts which might 
suggest that its arrangements ought to have been discussed in 
an earlier chapter. But these arrangements are in fact imitated 
from those of the ordinary dwellings of the living. Its economy 
is not that of either tomb or temple. The superposition of one 
story upon another is found in neither of those classes of buildings 

* Itintraire^ p. 213. 

* See the curious extracts from the Papyrus Anastasi IIL^^ytn by Maspero, 
Histoirt Ancienne, pp. 267-269. 

The Palace. 23 

but it is found both in military and domestic architecture. So, too, 
with the mode of lighting the various apartments. The darkness 
of the tomb is complete, the illumination of the temple is far from 
brilliant, in its more sacred parts it is almost as dark as the tomb. 
Prayers could be said to Osiris without inconvenience by the 
scanty daylight which found its way through the narrow doorway 
of the sepulchral chapel, but the active pleasures of life required 
a broader day. We find, therefore, that the pavilion was lighted 
by windows, real windows, and some of them very large. Nothing 
is more rare, in the buildings which have come down to us from 

Km. 10.— Brackets in ih« courtyard of the Royal r>vilion. 

the pharaonic epochs, than such windows ; but then most of those 
buildings are either tombs or temples. Civil architecture in 
Egypt had to fulfil pretty much the same requirements as in other 
countries. It was, therefore, obliged to employ the means which 
have been found necessary in every other country and at every 
other period. 

The employment of the window is not the only structural 
peculiarity in the pavilion of Medinet-Abou : upon the walls which 
surround the small court, and between the first and second stories, 
there are carved stone brackets or consoles, supporting flat slabs of 
stone. It has sometimes been asserted that these brackets formed 

24 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

supports for masts upon which a velarium was stretched across 
the court. But neither in engravings nor in photographs have 
we been able to discover the slightest trace of the holes which 
would be necessary for the insertion of such masts. 

But, leaving their purpose on one side, we must call attention to 
the curious sculptures which are interposed between the upper 
and lower slabs of these brackets. They are in the shape of 
grotesque busts, resting upon the lower slab and supporting the 
upper one with their heads. In the wall above a kind of framed 
tablet is inserted.^ In these figures, which are now very much 
worn and corroded by exposure, we have a repetition of those 
prisoners of war which occur frequently upon the neighbouring 
bas-reliefs in similar uncomfortable positions. Such a motive is 
entirely in place in a building which, by the general features of its 
architecture, seems a combination of fortress and triumphal arch. 

It is difficult to admit that such a building as this was never 
utilized. We may well believe that it was never built for permanent 
occupation, but we must not therefore conclude that chambers 
so well lighted and so richly decorated were without their proper 
and well-defined uses. The floors of the first and second stories 
have disappeared, but that they once existed is proved by the stair- 
case, part of which is still in place. The floors were of wood ; the 
stairs of stone. The general economy of the building shows that 
it was intended that every room, from the ground-floor to the top- 
most story, should be used when occasion arose. It is possible that 
they were employed as reception rooms for the princes and vassal 
chiefs who came together several times a year for the celebration 
of funerary rites. In chambers richly decorated like these, and, 
doubtless, richly furnished also, people of rank could meet together 
and await at their ease their turn to take part in the ceremonies.^ 

Although the pavilion of Medinet-Abou may, then, have no 
right to the name of palace, the foregoing observations have 
justified their position in this chapter by helping us to understand 

^ A careful examination of these tablets has yet to be made ; at present we are 
without any information as to their probable uses. The authors of the Description 
thought it likely that they were meant to receive metal trophies of some kind. They- 
might have been covered with a painted decoration, or they might have been 
intended to be cut into barred windows and left unfinished. In the photographs the 
stone of which they are made seems to be different in grain from the rest of 
the walls. 

■ Ebers, Vigyptty du Caire h Philct^ pp. 317-318. 



The Palace. 25 

some of the conditions imposed upon the Egyptian architect 
when he had to meet civil wants. Some of our readers may have 
expected to find, in this chapter, a description of a more famous 
monument, of that Labyrinth of which Herodotus, Diodorus, 
and Strabo wrote in such enthusiastic terms.^ 

But we are by no means sure that the ruins in the Fayoum are 
those of the Labyrinth. These ruins, which were first discovered 
and described by Jomard and Caristie,^ and afterwards in greater 
detail by Lepsius,^ are upon the western slope of the Libyan 
chain, about four miles and a half east-by-south from Medinet-el- 
Fayoum, at a point which must have been on the borders of Lake 
Moeris, if the position of that lake as defined by Linant de Belle- 
fonds be accepted.* Mariette did not admit that the ruins in 
question were those of the vast building which was counted 
among the seven wonders of the world. " I know," he once 
said to us, ** where the Labyrinth is : it is under the crops of 
the Fayoum. I shall dig it up some day if Heaven gives me a 
long enough life." 

However this may be, the ruins are at present in such a state 
of confusion that every traveller who visits the place comes away 
disappointed. '* If," says Ebers, " we climb the pyramid of 
powdery grey bricks — once however coated with polished granite 
— which, as Strabo tells us, stood at one extremity of the 
Labyrinth, we shall see that the immense palace in which the 
chiefs of the Egyptian nomes assembled at certain dates to meet the 
king was shaped like a horse shoe. But that is all that can be 
seen. The middle of the building and the whole of the left wing 
are entirely destroyed, while the confused mass of ruined halls 
and chambers on the right — which the natives of El-Howara think 
to be the bazaar of some vanished city — are composed of wretched 
blocks of dry grey mud. The granite walls of a few chambers and 
the fragments of a few inscribed columns form the only remains 
of any importance. From these we learn that the structure 
dates from the reign of Amenemhat HL, of the twelfth dynasty." ^ 

The plan and description of the building discovered by Lepsius 

* Herodotus, ii. 148 ; Diodorus Siculus, L 64; Strabo, xvii. 37. 

* Description de VAgypte^ vol, iv. p. 478. 

^ Denkmaler, vol. L plates 46-48. Briefe aus /Egypten, pp. 65-74. 

* See a remarkable paper on this question contributed by Mr. F. Cope Whitehouse 
to the Revue Archioiogique for June, 1882. — Ed. * Ebers, ^gypten^ p. 174. 


26 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

hardly correspond with the account of Strabo and with what we 
learn from other antique sources as to the magnificence of the 
Labyrinth and the vast bulk of the materials of which it was 
composed. We shall, therefore, reproduce neither the plan of 
Lepsius nor the text of the Greek geographer. The latter gives 
no measurements either of height or length, and under such 
circumstances any attempt to restore the building, from an 
architectural point of view would be futile. 

§ 3. — The Egyptian House. 

The palace in Egypt was but a house larger and richer in its 
decorations than the others. The observations which we have 
made upon it may be applied to the dwelling-places of private 
individuals, who enjoyed, in proportion to their resources, the same 
comforts and conveniences as the sovereign or the hereditary^ 
princes of the nomes. The house was a palace in small, its 
arrangements and construction were inspired by the same wants, 
by the same national hkbits, by the same climatic and other natural 

Diodorus and Josephus tell us that the population of Egypt 
proper, from Alexandria to Philae, was 7,000,000 at the time of the 
Roman Empire, and there is reason to believe that it was still 
larger at the time of the nation's greatest prosperity under the 
princes of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties.^ A large pro- 
portion of the Egyptian people lived in small towns and open 
villages, besides which there were a few very large towns. That 
Sais, Memphis, and Thebes were great cities we know from the 
words of the ancient historians, from the vast spaces covered by 
their ruins, and from the extent of their cemeteries. 

Neither the Greek nor the Egyptian texts give us any infor- 
\ mation as to the appearance of an Egyptian town, the way in 
which its buildings were arranged, or their average size and 
height. The Greek travellers do not seem to have been 
sufficiently impressed by anything of the kind to think it worthy 
of record. The sites of these ancient cities have hardly ever been 
examined from this point of view, and perhaps little would be 
discovered if such an examination were to take place. In every 

* Diodorus, i. 31, 6. — Josephus (The Jewish War^ ii. 16, 4) speaks of a 
population of seven millions and a half, exclusive of the inhabitants of Alexandria. 

Thk Egyptian House. 27 

country the ordinary dwelling-house is constructed of small 
materials, and the day arrives, sooner or later, when it succumbs 
to the action of the weather. 

It is only under exceptional circumstances that the private house 
leaves ruins behind it from which much can be learnt. Pompeii, 
under its shroud of ashes and fine dust, is a case in point. Some- 
times, also, when the house has entirely disappeared, interesting 
facts may be gleaned as to its extent and arrangement. Instances 
of this are to be seen at Athens, where, upon several of the hills 
which were formerly included within its walls, may be traced the 
foundations of private dwellings cut in the living rock. Neither 
of these favourable conditions existed in the valley of the Nile. 

The sands of the deserts would, no doubt, have guarded the 
houses of Memphis and Thebes as effectually as the cinders of 
Vesuvius did those of the little Roman town, if they had had but 
the same chance. We know how thoroughly they protected the 
dwellings of the dead upon the plateau of Gizeh, but the homes of 
the living were built close to the river and not upon the borders 
of the desert, and we can neither hope to find dead cities under 
the Egyptian sands, nor such indications of their domestic archi- 
tecture as those which may sometimes be gleaned in mountainous 

Their situation upon the banks of the river, or not far from it, 
made it necessary for Egyptian cities to be placed upon artificial 
mounds or embankments, which should raise them above the 
inundation. Those modern villages which are not built upon the 
slopes of the mountain, are protected in the same fashion. 

The tradition has survived of the great works undertaken 
during the period of national prosperity in order to provide this 
elevated bed for the chief cities of the country. According to 
Herodotus and Diodorus, Sesostris and Sabaco, that is to say the 
great Theban princes and the Ethiopian conquerors, were both 
occupied with this work of raising the level of the towns. ^ Some 
idea of the way in which these works were carried out has been 
gained by excavations upon the sites of a few cities. When a 
new district was to be added to a city the ground was prepared 
by building with crude brick a number of long and thick walls 
parallel to one another ; then cross walls at right angles with the 
first, chessboard fashion. The square pits thus constructed were 

^ Herodotus, ii. 137 ; Diodords, i. 57. 

28 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

filled with earth, broken stone, or anything else within reach. 
The foundations of the future city or district were laid upon the 
mass thus obtained, and profited by the operation both in health 
and amenity. The cities of Memphis and Thebes both seem to 
have been built in this manner/ 

As a rule this is all that we learn by excavating on these 
ancient sites. The materials of the houses themselves have either 
fallen into dust, or, in a country which has been thickly populated 
since long before the commencement of history, have been used 
over and over again in other works. The inevitable destruction 
has been rendered more rapid and complete by the fellah's habit 
of opening up any mounds which he has reason to believe ancient, 
for the sake of the fertilizing properties they possess. 

The only point in the Nile valley where the arrangements of an 
ancient city are still to be traced is upon the site of the new 
capital of Amenophis IV., built by him when he deserted Thebes 
and its god Amen.^ This city, which owed its existence to royal 
caprice, seems to have been very soon abandoned. We do not 
even know the name it bore during its short prosperity, and since 
its fall the site has never been occupied by a population sufficiently 
great to necessitate the destruction of its remains. The soil is 
still covered by the ruins of its buildings. These are always of 
brick. The plans of a few houses have been roughly ascertained, 
and the direction of the streets can now be laid down with some 
accuracy. There is a street parallel to the river, and nearly loo 
feet wide ; from this, narrower streets branch off at right angles, 
some of them being hardly broad enough to allow of two chariots 
passing each other between the houses. The most important 
quarter of the ,city was that to the north, in the neighbourhood of 
the vast quadrangular inclosure which contained the temple of the 

^ l^DOUARD Mariette, 7 raitk pratique et raisonnk de la Construction en J&^^pte^ 

P- 139. 
* The first elements for the Restoration of an Egyptian House which Mariette 

exhibited in the Universal Exhibition of 1878, were furnished, however, by some 

remains at Abydos. These consisted of the bases, to the height of about four feet, 

of the walls of a house. The general plan and arrangement of rooms was founded 

upon the indications thus obtained ; the remainder of the restoration was founded 

upon bas-reliefs and paintings. The whole was reproduced in the Gazette des 

Beaux-Arts of November ist, 1878, to which M. A. Rhone (JjAgypte Antique) 

contributed an analysis of the elements made use of by Mariette in his attempt to 

reconstruct an Egyptian dwelling. 

The Egyptian House. 

Solar Disc. In this part of the city the ruins of large houses with 
spacious courts are to be found. There is, moreover, on the 
western side of the main street a building which Prisse calls the 
palace, in which a forest of brick piers, set closely together, may, 
perhaps, have been constructed in order to raise the higher floors 
above the damp soil. This question cannot, however, be decided 
in the present state of our information. The southern quarter of 
the city was inhabited by the poor. It contains only small houses, 
crowded together, of which nothing but the outer walls and a 
few heaps of rubbish remain. 

In the case of Thebes we cannot point out, even to this 
slight extent, the arrangement of the city. We cannot tell where 
the palaces of the king and the dwellings of the great were 

—Plan of a part of the city at TeU'cl-Anmrna ; from Prisse. 

situated. All that we know is that the city properly speaking, the 
Diospolis of the Greeks, so called on account of the great temple 
of Amen which formed its centre, was on the right bank of the 
river ; that its houses were massed round those two great sacred 
inclosures which we now call Kamak and Luxor; that it was 
intersected by wide streets, those which united Kamak and Luxor 
to each other and to the river being bordered with sphinxes. 
These great streets were the Spofioi of the Greek writers ; others 
they called fiaaiXnc^ pvp.^, king's street.' The blocks of houses 
■which bordered these great causeways were intersected by narrow 
lanes.^ The quarter on the left bank of the river was a sort of 

* See Erugsch-Bey's topographical sketch of a part of ancient Thebes in the 
Jievue archiologiqut of M. E, Revillout, 1880 (plates 12 and 13). 

* See, in the Revue archhlopqve, the Donnees ^grapkiques et topographiquei 

so A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

suburb inhabited chiefly by priests, embalmers, and others practising 
those lugubrious branches of industry which are connected with 
the burial of the dead.^ The whole of this western city was known 
in the time of the Ptolemies and the Romans as the Memnonia.^ 

We shall not attempt to discuss the few hints given by the 
Greek writers as to the extent of Thebes. Even if they were 
less vague and contradictory than they are, they would tell 
us little as to the density of the population.^ Diodorus says 
that there were once houses of four and five stories high at 
Thebes, but he did not see them himself, and it is to the time of 
the fabulous monarch Busiris that he attributes them.* In painted 
representations we never find a house of more than three stories, 
and they are very rare* As a rule we find a ground-floor, one 
floor above that, and a covered flat roof on the top.^ 

It does not seem likely that, even in the important streets, the 
houses of the rich made much architectural show on the outside. 
Thebes and Memphis probably resembled those modern Oriental 
towns in which the streets are bordered with massive structures 
in which hardly any openings beside the doors are to be seen. 
The houses figured in the bas-reliefs are often surrounded by a 
crenellated wall, and stand in the middle of a court or garden.^ 

sur Thebes extraites par MM, Brugsch et Revillout des Contrats deniotiques et des Pikes 
correlatives^ p. 177. 

* E. Revillout, Taricheutes et Choachytes (in the Zeitschrift filr yEgyptisc/ie 
Sprache und Alterthumskundey 1879 and 1880). 

' In the Egyptian language, buildings like the Ramesseum and Medinet-Abou were 
called Mennou, or buildings designed to preserve some name from oblivion. This 
word the Greeks turned into /xc/avovio, because they thought that the term mennou was 
identical with the Homeric hero Memnon, to whom they also attributed the two 
famous colossi in the plain of Thebes. Ebers, y£gypten^ p. 280. 

' Diodorus (i. 45, 4) talks of a circumference of 140 stades (28,315 yards), with- 
out telling us whether his measurement applies to the whole of Thebes, or only to the 
city on the right bank. Strabo (xviL 46) says that ** an idea of the size of the 
ancient city may be formed from the fact that its existing monuments cover a space 
which is not less than 80 stades (16,180 yards) in length {ro firfKo^y* This latter 
statement indicates a circumference much greater than that given by Diodorus. 
Diodorus (i. 50, 4) gives to Memphis a circumference of 150 stades (30,337 yards, 
or 17^ miles). * Diodorus, i. 45, 5. 

* In a tale translated by M. Maspero {Etudes &gyptiennes^ 1879, p. 10), a princess 
is shut up in a house of which the windows are 70 cubits (about 105 feet) above the 
ground. She is to be given to him who is bold and skilful enough to scale her 
windows. Such a height must therefore have seemed quite fabulous to the Egyptians, 
as did that of the tower which is so common in our popular fairy stories. 

? In M. Maspero's translated Roman de Satni {Annuaire de P Association pour 


t[o. 12. — Lird's-eyc view of a villa, rcsloted by Ch, Cbipiei 

The Egyptian House- 33 

When a man was at all easy in his circumstances he chose for his 
dwelling a house in which all elegance and artistic elaboration was 
reserved for himself — a bare wall was turned to the noise of the 
street. Houses constructed upon such a principle covered, of course, 
a proportionally large space of ground. The walls of Babylon 
inclosed fields, gardens, and vineyards ; ^ and it is probable that 
much of the land embraced by those of Thebes was occupied in 
similar fashion by those inclosures round the dwellings of the 
rich, which might be compared to an Anglo-Indian "compound." 

The house, of which a restoration appears on page 31 (Fig. 
12), a restoration which is based upon the plan found by 
Rosellini in a Theban tomb (Fig. 3), is generally considered to 
have been a country villa belonging to the king. We do not 
concur in that opinion, however. It appears to us quite possible 
that in the fashionable quarters — if we may use such a phrase — 
of Memphis and Thebes, the houses of the great may have shewn 
such combinations of architecture and garden as this. There are 
trees and creeping plants in front of the house shown in Fig. i 
also. Both are inclosed within a wall pierced by one large door. 

Even the houses of the poor seem generally to have had their 
courtyards, at the back of which a structure was raised consisting 
of a single story surmounted by a flat roof, to which access was 
given by an external staircase. This arrangement, which is to 
be seen in a small model of a house which belongs to the 
Egyptian collection in the Louvre (Fig. 13), does not differ 
from that which is still in force in the villages of Egypt.^ 

In the larger houses the chambers were distributed around two 
or three sides of a court. The building, which has been alluded 
to as the Palace at Tell-el-Amarna, with many others in the same 
city (Figs. 14, 15, 16), affords an example of their arrangement. 
Sometimes, as in another and neighbouring house, the chambers 
opened upon a long corridor. The offices were upon the ground 
floor, while the family inhabited the stories above it. The flat top 
of the house had a parapet round it, and sometimes a light outer 

r Encouragement des jttudes grecques^ 1878), the house in Bubastis inhabited by the 
daughter of a priest of high rank is thus described : " Satni proceeded- towards the 
west of the town until he came to a very high house. It had a wall round it ; 
a garden on the north side ; a flight of steps before the door." 

* QUINTUS CURTIUS, V. I, 1 2 7. 

* Wilkinson, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians^ vol I 
P- 377. 

VOL. rr. F 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

roof supported by slender columns of brilliantly painted wood. 
This open story is well shown in Fig. i and in a box for 
holding funerary statuettes, which is in the Louvre. It Is repro- 
duced in Fig. 1 8. Upon that part of the roof which was not 
covered a kind of screen of planks was fixed, which served to 

Fig. 13. — Model of im Egyptian house; Louvre, 

establish a current of air, and to ventilate the house {Fig, 19), 
Sometimes one part of a house was higher than the rest, forming 
a kind of tower (Fig. 20). Finally, some houses were crowned 
with a parapet finishing at the top in a row of rounded battlements 


nm1 I 


Figs. 14— 17.— PUns of houses ; from Wilkinsoii, vol. i. p. 345. 

(Fig. 21). In very large houses the entrance to the courtyard 
was ornamented with a porch supported by two pillars, with lotus 
flower capitals, to which banners were tied upon fete days 
{Fig. 22). Sometimes the name of the proprietor, sometimes 
a hospitable sentiment, was inscribed upon the lintel {Fig. 23). 

The Egyptian House. 35 

" Egyptian houses were built of crude bricks made of loam 
mixed with chopped straw. These bricks were usually a foot long 
and six inches wide. The ceilings of the larger rooms were of 
indigenous or foreign wood ; the smaller rooms were often vaulted. 

Pig. 18. — Piece of fumiCure in tlie farm of > house ; LoDvre. 

" Doors and windows opened generally in the middle. They 
opened inwards, and were fastened by means of bolts and latches. 
Some of them had wooden locks like those which are still in use 

k^ s 

Fic. 10. — House with « lower, from 
a pajnling; Wilkinson, i. p. 361. 

in Egypt. Most of the inner doors were closed merely by 
hangings of some light material. For the decoration we must 
turn to the pictures in the rock-cut tombs. The walls of the 
houses were coated with stucco, and painted with religious and 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

domestic scenes. The galleries and columns of the porch were 
coloured in imitation of stone or granite. The ceilings were 
covered with what we call arabesques and interlacing ornaments 
of all kinds, while the floors were strewn with mats woven of 
many-coloured reeds." ' 

We shall describe the tasteful and convenient furniture which 
these rooms contained in our chapter upon the industrial arts. 

The flat roof seems to have been universal in Egypt. It added 
to the accommodation of the house, it afforded a pleasant rendezvous 
for the family in the evening, where they could enjoy the view and 

Fig. 24. — House, slorebouse, aod garden ; from Prisse, p. ziS. 

the fresh breezes which spring up at sunset. At certain seasons 
they must have slept there.^ On the other hand the granaries, 

' We have borrowed this short description from a Review of M. Gailhabaud's 
Monuments andens et modernes, Style £gyptien. Maisotts. Those who require 
further details may consult Chapter V. of Sir Gardner Wilkinson's Manners and 
Customs of the Ancient Egyptians. 

' Herodotus (ii. 95) says that they did so in the marshy parts of Lower 

The Egyptian House. 


barns, and storehouses were almost always dome-shaped (Fig. 24). 
Those which had flat roofs seem to have been very few indeed. 
This we see in a painting which seems to represent the process of 
brewing. The Egyptians were great beer drinkers (Fig. 25). 

Fia. 25. — BrewiDg, Bern-Hassan ; from Champollion, pi. 393. 

These brick vaults must have been very thick, and they were well 
fitted to preserve that equable and comparatively low temperature 
which is required for the keeping of provisions. The bas-reliefs 
often show long rows of storehouses one after the other. Their 
number was no doubt intended to give an idea of their proprietor's 

Fio, 26. — Gruiaries, Beni-Hasson ; from Wilkinson. 

wealth. Some of them seem to have had their only opening half- 
way up their sides and to have been reached by an external incline 
or flight of steps (Fig. 26). A sketch made by M. Bourgoin in a 
tomb at Sakkarah shows us another form of granary. It (Fig. 27) 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

is shaped like a stone bottle, it has a door at the ground level and 
a little window higher up.^ 

The Egyptians had country houses' as well as those in town, but 
the structural arrangements were the same in both. The dwelling 
of the peasant did not differ very greatly from that of the town- 
bred artisan, while the villas of the wealthy were only distin- 
guished from their houses in the richer quarters of Thebes and 

Fig. 27. — Granaries ; Sakkarah. 

Memphis by their more abundant provision of shady groves, parks, 
and artificial lakes. Their paintings prove conclusively that the 
Egyptians had carried horticulture to a very high pitch ; they even 
put their more precious trees in pots like those in which we 
place orange-trees.^ 

§ 4. Military Architecture. 

The Ancient Egyptians have left us very few works of military 
architecture, and yet, under their great Theban princes, more than 
one fortress must have been built outside their own country to 
preserve their supremacy over neighbouring peoples. In the 
later periods of the empire fortresses were erected in the Delta 

^ It is difficult to say what the artist meant by the little oblong mark under these 
windows. Perhaps it represents an outside balcony by which the window could be 
reached either for the purposes of inspection or in order to add to the store within. 

' These trees must have been planted in large terra-cotta pots, such as are still 
used in many places for the same purpose. 

Military Architecture. 39 

and in the upper gorges of the Nile, but, unfortunately such works 
were always carried out in brick and generally in crude brick. 
The Egyptian architect had at hand in great abundance the finest 
materials in the world, except marble, and yet they were used by 
him exclusively for the tomb and the temple. When it was a 
question of providing an indestructible dwelling for the dead, and 
so of perpetuating the efficacy of the funeral prayers and offerings, 
** eternal stone *' was not spared ; but when less important purposes 
had to be fulfilled the5rwere content with clay. Baking bricks was 
a more rapid process than quarrying and dressing stone, and if the 
house or fortress in which they were used had comparatively 
slight durability, it was easy enough to replace it with another. 

The crude bricks, dried simply in the sun, became disintegrated 
with time and fell into powder ; the kiln dried bricks were carried 
off from the ruins of one building to be used in another. The 
few piers or fragments of wall which remain are confused and 
shapeless. A few blocks of stone, sometimes even a single chip 
of marble, is enough to enable us to tell the history of a building 
which has been long destroyed. Such a chip may be the only 
surviving fragment of the edifice to which it belonged, but it 
preserves the impression of the chisel which fashioned it, that is 
of the taste and individuality of the artist who held the chisel. 
We have nothing of the kind in the case of a brick. Bricks were 
almost always covered with a coat of stucco, so that nothing was 
required of them beyond that they should be of the right size and 
of a certain hardness. It is only by their inscriptions, when they 
have them, that the dates of these bricks can be determined ; 
when they are without them they tell us nothing at all about the 
past. Sometimes a brick structure presents, from a distance, an 
imposing appearance, and the traveller approaches it thinking that 
he will soon draw all its secrets from it. But after carefully study- 
ing and measuring it he is forced to confess that he has failed. 
It has no trace of decoration, and it is the decoration of an ancient 
building which tells us its age, its character, and its purpose. 
Stone, even when greatly broken, allows mouldings to be traced, 
but bricks preserve nothing; they are as wanting in individual 
expression as the pebbles which go to make a shingly beech. 

Even if it had come down to us in a less fragmentary condition, 
the military architecture of Egypt would have been far less in- 
teresting than that of Greece. The latter country is mountainous ; 

40 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the soil is cut up by valleys and rocky hills ; the Greek towns, or, 
at least, their citadels, occupied the summits of rocky heights which 
varied greatly in profile and altitude. Hence the military architec- 
ture of the country showed great diversity in its combinations. 
In Egypt the configuration of the soil was not of a nature to 
provoke any efforts of invention or adaptation. All the cities 
were in the plain. Fortified posts were distinguished from one 
another only by the greater or less extent, height, and thickness of 
their walls. We shall, however, have to call attention to the 
remains of a few defensive works which, like those established to 
guard the defiles of the cataracts, were built upon sites different 
enough from those ordinarily presented by the Nile valley. In 
these cases we shall find that the Egyptian constructors knew 
how to adapt their military buildings to the special requirements 
of the ground. 

Egyptian cities seem always to have been surrounded by a forti- 
fied enceinte ; in some cases the remains of such fortifications have 
been found, in others history tells us that they existed. At Thebes, 
for instance, no traces have, so far as we know, been discovered 
of any wall. Homer s epithet of hundred-gated [UaTofnrvXosi) may 
be put on one side as evidence, because the Greek poet did not 
know Egypt. He described the great metropolis of the Empire 
of the South as he imagined it to be. The Homeric epithet is 
capable also of another explanation, an explanation which did not 
escape Diodorus,^ it may have referred, not to the gates of the 
city, but to the pylons of the temples, and should in that case be 
translated as " Thebes of the hundred pylons " instead of hundred 
gates. We have better evidence as to the existence of fortifications 
about the town in the descriptions left to us by the ancient historians 
of the siege of Ptolemy Physcon : the city could not have resisted 
for several years if it had been an open town. It was the same 
with Memphis. On more than one occasion, during the Pharaonic 
period as well as after the Persian conquest, it played the part of 
a fortress of the first class. It was the key of middle Egypt. 
It even had a kind of citadel which included almost a third of the 
city and was called the white wall (\ev/cop relxos).^ This name was 

^ DiODORUS, i. 45, 6. 

* Thucydides, i. 104. Cf. Herodotus, iiL 94, and Diodorus, xi. 74. After 
the Persian conquest it was occupied by the army corps left to ensure the submission 
of the country. 

Military Architecture. 41 

given, as the scholiast to Thucydides informs us, " because its walls 
were of white stone, while those of the city itself were of red 
brick," The exactness of this statement may be doubted. The 
Egyptians made their defensive walls of a thickness which could 
only be attained in brick. It seems likely therefore that these 
walls consisted of a brick core covered with white stone. An 
examination of the remains of Heliopolis suggested to the authors 
of the Description de fEgypie that the walls of that city also were 
cased with dressed stone. They found, even upon the highest 
part of the walls, pieces of limestone for which they could 
account in no other way. 

Nowhere else is there anything to be discovered beyond the 
remains of brick walls, which have always been laid out in the 
form of a parallelogram.^ These walls are sometimes between 
sixty and seventy feet thick.^ In some cases their position is 
only to be traced by a gentle swelling in the soil ; at Sais, 
however, they seem to have preserved a height of fifty-seven 
feet in some parts.^ No signs of towers or bastions are ever 
found. At Heliopolis there were gates at certain distances with 
stone jambs covered with inscriptions.* The best preserved of 
all th^se, enceintes is that of the ancient city of Nekheb, the Eilithyia 
of the Greeks, in the valley of El-Kab. The rectangle is 595 
yards long by 516 wide; the walls are 36 feet thick.^ About 
a quarter of the whole enceinte has been destroyed for the 
purposes of agriculture ; the part which remains contains four 
large gates, which are not placed in the middle of the faces upon 
which they open. In all the paintings representing sieges these 
walls are shown with round-topped battlements, which were 
easily constructed in brick. 

The only fort, properly speaking, which has been discovered 
in Egypt, appears to be the ruin known as Chounet-es-Zezib at 
Abydos.^ This is a rectangular court inclosed by a double wall, 

Plate 55 of the first volume of Lepsius's Dcnkmceier contains traces of the 
enceintes of Sais, Heliopolis, and Tanis. See also the Description de Vigypte^ Ant,y 
Ch. 21, 23, 24. 

' At Heliopolis they were 64 feet thick {Description) y at Sais 48 feet {ibid.) 
while at Tanis they were only 19 feet 

' IsAMBERT, Itineraire de P^f^ypte. * Maxime du Camp, Le Nil^ p. 64. 

^ Lepsius, Denkmceler^ vol. ii. pi. 100. — Ebers, {^gypten^ makes the enceinte 
of Nekheb a square. 

^ Mariette, Abydos, Description des FouilieSy vol. ii. pp. 46-49, and plate 68. 



A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

and it still exists in a fair state of preservation, to the west of 
the northern necropolis (Fig. 28). After examining many possible 
hypotheses, Mariette came to the conclusion that this was a 
military post intended to watch over the safety of the necropolis, 
and to keep an eye upon the caravans arriving from the desert. 
Robber tribes might otherwise be tempted to make use of any 
moment of confusion for the pillage of the temple. There were 

rr- — 

F|G. 28. — Military post at Abydos ; perspective from the plans, etc., of Mariette. 

curious arrangements for the purpose of guarding against a coup- 
de-main. Within the outer wall, which is provided with small 
gateways, there is a covered way extending round the whole 
fort, and commanded by the inner wall. Before the inner court 
could be reached, an enemy had to traverse a narrow and crooked 
passage in the thickness of the wall, which was well calculated 
to secure the necessary time for a moment of preparation in case 
of surprise (Fig, 29). 





Fig. 29. — ^Military post. Plan of the entrances ; from Mariette. 

The most curious relic of the military engineering of the 
Egyptians is to be found in Nubia. Thirty-seven miles south- 
ward of the cataracts of Wadi-Halfah the Nile has worn a 
channel through a long chain of granite hills which run across 
the valley from east to west. On each side of the river-bed these 
hills rise to some height and across its torrent there are a few 
detached rocks, which once formed a natural dam, but between which 

Military Architecture. 45 

the water now rushes impetuously. Navigation is only possible 
among these rapids during the inundation. This point in the 
river's course was therefore well fitted to be the gate of Egypt 
and to be fortified against the incursions of the southern tribes. 
During the first Theban Empire, the Pharaohs of the twelfth 
dynasty drew the national frontier at this point, and resolved 
to establish themselves there in force. The Third Ousourtesen 
seems to have built the two fortresses of which substantial remairis 
exist even now. Each fortress contained a temple and numerous 
houses. Lepsius gives the name of Kummeh to that on the 
right bank and reserves the name Semnehy which has usually been 
applied to the whole group, to the building on the left bank only. 

For our restoration (Fig. 30) we have had to depend very 
little upon conjecture.^ The only flight of fancy in which we 
have indulged is seen in the extra height which we have given 
to the tower at the north-eastern angle of the building It 
seemed to us probable that at some point upon such a lofty terrace 
there would be a belvedere or watch-tower to facilitate the 
proper surveillance of the country round about. For the rest we 
have merely re established the upper part of the works and 
restored its depth to the ditch, which had been filled in by the falling 
of the parapets. The line of walls and bastions can be easily 
followed except at one point upon the southern face, where a 
wide breach exists. The destruction of this part of the wall 
alone and the clearing of the ground upon which it stood, suggests 
that it was broken down by man rather than by time. It is 
probable that the fortress was taken by some Ethiopian conqueror, 
by Sabaco or Tahraka, and that he took care to render its forti- 
fications useless in a way that could not be easily repaired. 

Our view of the fort shows it as it must have appeared from 
a hill in the Libyan Chain, to the south-west. The engineer 
lavished all his skill on rendering the castle impregnable from 

^ We have been able to make use, for this reconstruction, of two plans which 
only differ in details, and otherwise mutually corroborate each other. One is given 
by Lepsius, Plate iii, vol. iil of his Denkmcder\ the plans of the two fortresses are 
in the middle of his map of the valley where they occur. In plate 112 we have 
a pictorial view of the ruins and the ground about them. In the Bulletin 
archeologigue de rAthenaum Fran^ais (1855, pp. 80-84, a^^d plate 5), M. Vogue 
also published a plan of the two forts, accompanied by a section and a description 
giving valuable details, details which Lepsius, in his Briefe aus ^gypten, passed over 
in silence. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the side of the desert. An attack upon the flank facing the 
stream was impossible ; on that side the walls rested upon 
precipitous rocks rising sheer from the rapids of the Nile. 

The trace of the walls was a polygon not unlike a capital L. 
The principal arm was perpendicular to the course of the river. Its 
flat summit (see Fig. 30) was about 250 feet by 190 feet. The 
interior was reached by a narrow passage in the thickness of the 
masonry, the entrance to which was reached by an inclined 
planie. The entrance is not visible in our illustration but the 
incline which leads to it is shown. The walls on the three sides 
which looked landwards were from fifty to eighty feet high, accord- 
ing to the ground. They increased in thickness from twenty-six 

Fig. 31. — ^A besi^ed fort, Beni- Hassan; from Champollion, pi. 379. 

feet at the base to about twelve or thirteen at the summit. 
Externally their upper parts fell backwards in such fashion that 
no ladder, however high, would have availed to reach the 
parapet. We find a similar arrangement in the walls of a fortress 
represented at Beni-Hassan (Fig. 31).^ 

The walls of Semneh were strengthened, both structurally and 
from a military point of view, by salient buttresses or small 
bastions on all the sides except that which faced the river. 
These buttresses were either twelve or thirteen in number and 
from six to eight feet wide at the top. In the re-entering angle 

* In this case the inclination is, however, in the lower half of the wall ; a 
device which would be far less efficient in defeating an escalade than that at 
Semneh. — Ed. 

Fjg, 3a. — Siq^ of a fortrcK ; from the Ramesstaiii, Thebei. 

Military Architkcture. 49 

which faces north-west there is a long diagonal buttress, by the 
use of which the engineer or architect at once economized 
material and protected a weak part of his structure in a most 
efficient manner. The salient angles of the enceinte were pro- 
tected by double towers, very well disposed so as to command 
the ditch. A symmetrical regularity is not to be found here 
any more than in the funerary and religious structures of Egypt. 
The curtain wall between two of' the towers on the southern 
face is broken up into small buttresses of various degrees of 
salience, instead of being planned on a straight line like the rest. 

When the fortress was prepared for defence the parapets may 
have been furnished with wooden structures acting as machicola- 
tions, whence the besieged could cast javelins and stones and 
shoot arrows at an enemy attempting to scale or batter the walls. 
A bas-relief at Thebes which represents the siege of a fortress 
seems to indicate that the parapets were crowned by wooden 
erections of some kind (Fig. 32).^ 

The walls were surrounded by a ditch, which Vv'as from 95 
to 125 feet wide. We cannot now tell what its depth may 
have been, but it appears to have been paved. The counterscarp 
and certain parts of the scarp were faced with stone, carefully 
polished, and fixed so as to augment the difficulty of approach. 
Moreover, the crown of the glacis and the wide glacis itself were 
also reveted with stone. All this formed a first line of defence, 
which had to be destroyed before the assailants could reach the 
place itself with their machines. The external line of the ditch 
does not follow all the irregularities of the enceinte\ its trace is 
the same as that of the curtain wall, exclusive of the towers or 
buttresses. The clear width from the face of the latter is about 
sixty-four feet. Neither ditch nor glacis exist on the eastern face, 
where the rapids of the Nile render them unnecessary. 

We must not forget to draw attention to the curious way in 
which the body of the fort is constructed. It is composed of 
crude bricks transfixed horizontally, and at rather narrow intervals, 
by pieces of wood. The situation of these beams may be easily 
recognized as they have decayed and left channels in the brick- 
work. That the holes with which the walls are pierced at regular 
distances (see Fig. 30) were thus caused, is beyond doubt, especially 

* Both the plate in the Description de t AgypU {Ant, vol, ii. pi. 31), and that in 
Lepsius (part iii. pi. 166), suggest this interpretation. 



I . J. 

50 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

since a few fragments of wood which the centuries have spared 
have been found. These fragments have been recognized as 
having come from the doum palm, which is very common in Upper 
Egypt, and commoner still in Nubia. 

We need not dwell upon the other fortress — that on the right 
bank. It may be seen in the distance in our restoration of 
Semneh. Being built upon rocks which were on all sides difficult 
of access, it did not require any very elaborate works. It was 
composed of an enceinte inclosing an irregular square about 190 
feet each way. It had but a few salient buttresses ; there were 
only two on the north east, towards the mountains, and one, a 
very bold one, on the south-west, commanding the river. There 
was no room for a wide ditch. But at a distance of thirteen feet 
from the walls there was a glacis similar to that at Semneh. It 
had the same casing of polished stone, but on account of the 
irregularities of the rock, the height of its crown varied con- 
siderably, and its r.lope Was very steep, almost vertical. The 
trace of the counterscarp followed that of the enceinte, including 
tL>. Lj.ti'c'^ses. Moreover, at its northern and southern angles it 
followed a line which roughly resembled the bastions of a modern 
fortification. Its structure was similar to that of Semneh. 

Lepsius does not hesitate to ascribe both these forts to Ousour- 
tesen III., whose name appears upon all the neighbouring rocks, 
and who, with the deities of the south, was worshipped at 
Semneh.^ They would thus date back, according to the chrono- 
logy which is now generally adopted, to the twenty- seventh or 
twenty-eighth century B.C. In any case they cannot be later than 
the time of Thothmes III., who, in the course of the seventeenth 
century b.c. restored the temples which they inclose, and covered 
their walls with his effigies and royal cartouches. Even if we 
admit that these two castles are not older than the last-named 
epoch, we shall still have to give to Egypt the credit of possessing 
the oldest examples of military architecture, as well as the oldest 
temples and the oldest tombs. 

^ Lepsius, Brief e aus ^gypten, p. 259. — See also Maspero, Histoire Anaenney 
pp. 111-113. 



§ I. An Analysis of Architectural Forms ftecessary. 

We have now described the tomb, the temple, and the house 
in ancient Eg>'pt. We have attempted to define the character of 
their architecture, and to show how its forms were determined by 
the religious beliefs, social condition, and manners of the nation, 
as well as by the climate of the country. We have therefore 
passed in review the most important architectural creations of 
a people who were the first to display a real taste and feeling 
for art. 

In order to give a complete idea of Egyptian art, and of the 
resources at its disposal, we must now take these buildings to 
pieces and show the elements of which they were composed. The 
rich variety of supports, the numerous *^ orders " of pillar and column, 
the methods employed for decoration and illumination, must each 
be studied separately. We have coijimenced by looking at them 
from a synthetic point of view, but we must finish by a methodical 
analysis. From such an analysis alone can we obtain the neces- 
sary materials for an exhaustive comparison between the art of 
Egypt and that of the nations which succeeded her upon the stage 
of history. An examination of the Egyptian remains carries the 
historian back to a more remote date than can be attained in the 
case of any other country, and yet he is far from reaching the first 
springs of Egyptian civilization. Notwithstanding their prodi- 
gious antiquity, the most ancient of the monuments that have 
survived carry us back into the bosom of a society which had 
long emerged from primitive barbarism. The centuries which saw 
the building of the Pyramids and the mastabas of the Memphite 
necropolis had behind them a long and well-filled past. Although 

52 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

we possess no relic from that past, we can divine -its character to 
some extent from the impression which it made upon the taste 
and fancy of latter ages. Certain effects of which the artists of 
Memphis were very fond can only be explained by habits con- 
tracted during a long course of centuries. In the forms and 
motives employed by Egyptian architects we shall find more than 
one example of these survivals from a previous stage of develop- 
ment, such as forms appropriate to wood or metal employed in 
stone, and childish methods of construction perpetuated without 
other apparent cause. 

§ 2. Materials. 

In our explanation of the general character of Egyptian archi- 
tecture we have already enumerated the principal materials of 
which it disposed, and pointed out the modifications arising from 
the choice of one or another of those materials. We should not 
here return to the subject but for a misconception which has 
gained a wide acceptance. 

People have seen a few granite obelisks standing in two or 
three of the European capitals, and they have too often jumped 
to the conclusion that the Egyptians built almost exclusively in 
granite. The fact is that there is but one building in Egypt the 
body of which is of granite, and that is the ancient temple at 
Gizeh which is called the Temple of the Sphirtx (Figs. 202 and 
203, vol. i.). Even there the roof and the casing of the walls was 
of alabaster. Granite was employed, as a rule, only where a very 
choice and expensive material was required. It was brought into 
play when certain parts of a building had to be endowed with 
more nobility and beauty than the rest. Thus there are, in the 
great temple at Karnak, a few small rooms, called The Granite 
Chambers (Fig. 215, H, vol. i.), in which the material in question has 
alone been employed. Elsewhere in the same building it was 
only used incidentally. In the pyramid of Cheops the lining of 
the Grand Gallery is of granite.^ In many of the Theban temples 
it was employed for the bases of columns, thresholds, jambs, and 
lintels of doors. It was also used for isolated objects, such as 

* It is of Mokattam limestone (see vol. i., p. 223). M. Pen-ot probably meant 
to refer to the two upper " chambers," both of which are lined with granite. — Ed. 

Materials. 53 

tabernacles, monolithic statues, obelisks, and sarcophagi. The 
enormous quantity of granite which Egypt drew, from first to last, 
from the quarries at Syene, was mostly for the sculptor. The 
dressed materials of the architect came chiefly from the lime- 
stone and sandstone quarries. Sometimes we find a building 
entirely constructed of one or the other, sometimes they are 
employed side by side. *' The great temple at Abydos is built 
partly of limestone, very fine in the grain and admirably adapted 
for sculpture, and partly of sandstone. The sandstone has been 
used for columns, architraves, and the frames of doors, and 
limestone for the rest." ^ 

Bricks were employed to a vast extent by the Egyptians. They 
made them of Nile mud mixed with chopped straw, a combination 
which is mentioned in- the Biblical account of the hardships in- 
flicted upon the Israelites. " And Pharaoh commanded the same 
day the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, Ye 
shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore ; 
let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the 
bricks which they did make heretofore ye shall lay upon them ; 
ye shall not diminish aught thereof, for they be idle.** ^ 

This manufacture was remarkable for its extreme rapidity — an 
excellent brick earth was to be found at almost any point in the 
Nile valley. An unpractised labourer can easily make a thousand 
bricks a day ; after a week's practice he can make twelve hundred, 
and, if paid " by the piece " as many as eighteen hundred a day.^ 
Sometimes drying in the sun was thought sufficient ; the result 
was a crude brick which was endowed with no little power of 
resistance and endurance in such a climate as that of Egypt. 
When baked bricks were required the operation was a little 
complicated as they each had to pass through the kiln. Egyptian 
bricks were usually very large. Those of a pyramid in the 
neighbourhood of Memphis average 15 inches long by 7 wide 

' Mariette, Voyage dans la Haute- Agypte, vol. i. p. 59. 

' Exodus V. 6-8. 

^ Mariette, Traite pratique et raisonne de la Construction en igypte^ p. 59. All 
these operations are shown upon the walls of a tomb at Abd-el-Gournah (Lepsius, 
Denkfnceler, p. m, pi. 40). Labourers are seen drawing water from a basin, 
digging the earth, carr)'ing it in large jars, mixing it with the water, pressing the clay 
into the moulds, finally building walls which are being tested with a plumb-line by 
an overseer or foreman (see also Fig. 16). 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

and 4f inches thick.^ After the commencement of the Theban 
epoch they were often stamped with the royal oval — as the Roman 
bricks had the names of the consuls impressed upon them — and 
thus they have preserved the dates at which the buildings of 
which they form part were erected (Fig. 33).^ 

We see, then, that the Egyptians had no lack of excellent 
building materials of a lapidary kind. On the other hand, they 
were very poorly provided with good timber. Before the conquest 
of Syria they must have been almost entirely confined to their 
indigenous woods. The best of these were the Acacia nilotica^ 
or gum acacia, and the Acacia lebkak, but neither of these trees 
furnished beams of any size. Sycamore wood was too soft ; its 
root alone being hard enough for use.^ And yet in default 
of better wood it was sometimes employed. The same may 

be said of the date palm, whose trunk 
furnished posts and rafters, and, at times, 
very poor floortng planks. During the 
hey-day of Theban supremacy, the timber 
for such buildings as the pavilion at 
Medinet-Abou must have been brought from 
Syria at great cost. The Theban princes, 
like those of Nineveh in later times, no 
doubt caused the Phoenicians, who were 
their vassals, to thin the cedar forests of 
Lebanon for their benefit. In structures 
of less importance carpenters and joiners 
had to do as best they could with the 
timber furnished by their own country. The difficulty which 
they experienced in procuring good planks explains to some 
extent the care which they lavished upon their woodwork. They 
contrived, by an elaborate system of ** parquetting," of combining 
upright and horizontal strips with ornamental members, to avoid 
the waste of even the smallest piece of material. In some ways 
this work resembles the ceilings, doorways, and panels of a 

Fig, 33. — Brick stamped 
>» iih the royal ovals ; from 

* Prisse, Histoire de PArt ^gyptien^ letter-press, p. 179. 

2 Lepsius {Denkmakr^ part iii. plates 7, 2 5 a, 26, 39) has reproduced a certain 
number of these stamped bricks. 

^ We do not here refer to the kind of maple which is often erroneously called 
a sycamore with us, but to a tree of quite a different family and appearance, the 
Ficus Sycomorus of Linnaeus. 

Construction. 5 5 

modern Arab house, of the moMcharabiehs of Cairo. The principle 
is the same in both cases, although the decorative lines are some- 
what different ; similar necessities have suggested the employ- 
ment of similar processes.^ 

§ 3. Construction. 

In spite of the bad quality of Egyptian timber the earliest 
efforts at construction made by the ancestors of the people were 
made in wood. Their dwellings cannot have been very unlike 
those which the traveller even yet encounters in Nubia. These 
are cabins with walls formed of palm branches interlaced and 
plastered over with clay and straw. Their roofs are branches or 
planks from the same tree laid horizontally across. In Lower 
Egypt, upon the borders of Lake Menzaleh, the huts of the 
people are formed of long and thick faggots of reeds. Wherever 
wood was abundant and the rain less to be feared than the heat 
of the sun, the first dwelling was a hut of branches. The 
manufacture of bricks required a good deal more patience, calcula- 
tion, and effort, than to plant a few boughs in the soil and weave 
them together. 

We do not mean to pretend that earth, either in the form of 
bricks or pis4 did not very soon come into use when men began 
to form shelters for themselves, but it seems certain that wooden 
construction was developed before any other. It was the first to 
aim at ornament, and to show anything which could be called 
a style. This is proved by the fact that the most ancient works 
in stone have no appropriate character of their own ; they owe 
such decorative qualities as they possess to their docile imitation 
of works in the less durable material. 

We may take the sarcophagus of Mycerinus as an example 
of this. That sarcophagus had a short but adventurous career 
after its discovery by Colonel Howard Vyse in 1837. It was then 
empty, but in a state of perfect preservation, with the exception 
of the lid, which was broken, but could be easily restored. The 
precious relic was removed from the pyramid and embarked, 
together with the wooden coffin of the king, on board a merchant 
ship at Alexandria. On her voyage to England the ship was 

^ Ed. Mariette, Traite Pratique ^ etc., p. 95. 

56 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

wrecked off Carthagena, and the sarcophagus lost. The coffin 
floated and was saved. Happily the sarcophagus had been 
accurately drawn, and we are enabled to give a perspective view 
of it compiled from Perrings elevations (Fig. 34). 

From its appearance no one would guess that this sarcophagus 
was of basalt. The whole of its forms were appropriate to 
wooden construction alone. Each of its longer sides was divided 
into three compartments by four groups of minute pilasters, sHght 
in salience, and crowned by a kind of entablature formed of four 
transverse members which were unequal in length and relief. The 
lower parts of the three compartments consist of a kind of false 
door with very complicated jambs. Above this there are deeply 
cut hollows with cross bars, suggesting windows, and still higher 
a number of fillets run along the whole length of the sarcophagus. 
The little pilasters are separated by narrow panels, which terminate 
in an ornament which could readily be cut in wood by the chisel, 
viz., in that double lotus-leaf which is so universally present in 
the more ancient tombs. 

The ends of the sarcophagus were similar to the sides, except 
that they had only one compartment. The corners and the upper 
edge, exclusive of the lid, are carved into a cylindrical moulding 
which resembles the rounded and tied angles of a wooden case. 
The upper member of the whole, a bold cornice, is the only 
element which it is not easy to refer to the traditions of wooden 

The first idea suggested by the design of this sarcophagus is 
that of a large wooden coffer. When we come to look at it a little 
more closely, however, the imitations of doors and windows and 
other details incline us to believe that its maker was thinking 
of reproducing the accustomed aspect of a wooden house. In 
that case we should have in it a reduction of a building belonging 
to the closed category of assembled constructions. It is by the 

* In his Histoire de V Habitation^ Viollet-le-Duc has sought to find the origin 
of this cornice in an outward curve imparted to the upper extremity of the reeds of 
which primitive dwellings were made, and maintained by the weight of the roof. He 
published a drawing in justification of his hypothesis. There are, however, many 
objections to it. It requires us to admit the general use of the reed as the material 
for primitive dwellings. Branches which were ever so little rigid and firm could not 
have been so bent, and yet they are often found in the huts to which we refer. 
It may even be doubted whether the reeds employed would bear such a curvature 
as that of the Egyptian cornice without breaking. 

Construction. 59 

study of imitative works of this kind and by comparing with one 
another the forms originally conceived by carpenters and joiners, 
and afterwards employed in stone architecture, that, in our chapter 
upon the general principles of Egyptian construction, we were 
enabled to attempt a restoration which may be taken as a type 
of the early wooden architecture (Fig. 83, vol. i.). 

The foregoing observations may be applied with equal justice to 
the sarcophagus of Khoo-foo-Ankh figured on pp. 183, 184, vol. i. 
It is of the same period, and displays the same arrangement of 
panels and fillets, the same lotus-leaf ornament, and the same 
imitation of a barred window. There is no cornice or gorge at 
the top, but the upper part of the flat sides is decorated with the 
perpendicular grooves which are found in the hollow of the cornice 
elsewhere. In wood this ornament, which was well adapted to add 
richness to the cornice by the shadows which it cast, could easily 
be made with a gouge ; so that even if the gorge itself was not 
borrowed from wooden construction its ornamentation may well 
have originated in that way. 

If still further proofs be required of the imitative character of 
this early stone architecture, we shall find them in the door of a 
tomb (Fig. 35). Nothing can be clearer than the way in which 
the lintel obtained its peculiar character. It is formed of a thick 
slab engaged at each end in the upright beams of stone which 
form the jambs. This slab appears beyond the jambs, and ends 
in a deep groove, which divides them from the walls. Under- 
neath the lintel, and well within the shadow which it 'casts, there 
is another and more curious slab ; it is, in shape, a thick cylinder, 
corresponding in length to the width of the door. In the deep 
groove already mentioned the ends of the spindles or trunnions 
upon which it is supported are suggested. They are not, indeed, 
in their right places : they are too near the face of the building. 
The workman would have had to make the groove very deep in 
order to show them in their proper places, and he was therefore 
content to hint at them with sulfficient clearness to enable those 
who saw them to understand what they meant. 

We have none of the wooden models under our eyes which 
were familiar to the stonemason who carved these doors, but yet 
we can easily see the origin of the forms we have just described. 
The cylinder was a circular beam of acacia or palm, upon which a 
mat or strip of cloth of some kind was nailed. By means of coils 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

in the groove at the side the cylinder could be made to revolve, 
and the curtain would thus be easily drawn up and down. These 
curious forms are thus at once accounted for if we refer them to 
the wooden structures which were once plentiful but have now 
disappeared. Nothing could be more difficult than to find an 
explanation of them in forms appropriate to stone or granite. Of 
what use could such a cylinder be if carried out in either of those 


Fig. 3S. — Door of a tomb at Sakkarah ; draw n by Bourgoin. 

materials ? It could not revolve, and the deep lateral grooves, 
which have such an obvious use in a wooden building, would be 

We find these features repeated in a rectangular stele from the 
fourth dynasty, which we reproduce on page 6i. In Fig. ^y we 
give some of its details upon a larger scale. The upper part of 
this stele displays two motives which will be recognised at the 
first glance as borrowed from carpentry. The first of these is the 



row of hexagonal studs, which forms a kind of frieze above the 
pilasters. In the wooden original they must have been formed 
of six small pieces of wood fixed around a hexagonal centre. 
Oriental cabinetmakers to this day ornament ceilings and wains- 
cots in the same fashion. Something like them is certain to have 

Fig. 36.— Slele from the 4th dynasly ; dra 

existed in that okel, whose delicately ornamented walls were so 
greatly admired by the visitors to the Exhibition of 1867. The 
same may be said of the row of billets which forms the upper 
member of the frieze, to which something of an ovoid form 
has been given by rounding their upper extremities. The 
same source of inspiration is betrayed by other details of this 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

monument, which has been treated by time with extraordinary 

Tombs have been found at Gizeh and Sakkarah, which are 
referred to the second and third dynasties. The king Persen, 
whose name occurs in some of the inscriptions upon these tombs, 
belongs to that remote period. In many of these tombs the 
ceiling is carved to represent trunks of palm-trees ; even the 
roughnesses of the bark being reproduced. Most of the sepul- 
chres in which these details have been noticed are subterranean, 
but they are also to be discovered in a chamber in the tomb of 
Ti. It is probable that if more mastabas had come down to iis 

Details of ihe upper | 

put or the Stele figured on the I 

Fig. 37. — Stele from the 4th dynasty ; drawn by Boorgoin. 

with their roofs intact we should find many instances of this kind 
of decoration.^ 

Our Figures 38 and 39 are taken from another tomb, and show 
varieties of that ornament which is universally employed as a 
finial to the panels we have mentioned. In its most careful 
form it consists of two petals united by a band, which allows the 
deep slit characteristic of the leaves of all aquatic plants to be 
clearly visible. 

' This imitation of wooden roofs was noticed by the savants of the Imtitul 
d'Egypit. They drew a rock-cut tomb in which the ceiling is carved to look like 
the trunks of palm trees {Desa-ipfion, Antiquitis, vol. v, pi. 6, figs. 3, 4, and 5), 
See also Baedeker, part i. p. 360. 



This motive seems to have had peculiar value in the eyes of 
the Egyptians. It is also found in the tombs at Thebes, and its 
persistence may, perhaps, be accounted for by the association of 
the lotus with ideas of a new birth and resurrection.^ Under the 
Rameses and their successors it was, with the exception of the 
vertical and horizontal grooves {Fig. 201, vol. i.), the 
only reminiscence of wooden construction preserved 
by stone architecture. In the doors of the rock-cut 
tombs at Thebes no trace of the circular beam, 
nor of any other characteristic of the joiner-inspired 
stone-carving of early times, is to be found. The 

its elongated 
form ; drawn b/ 

Egyptian architects had by that time learnt to use 
stone and granite in a fashion suggested by their 
own capabilities. We see, however, by the represen- 
tations preserved for us by the bas-reliefs, that 
wooden construction maintained the character which 
belonged to it during the first days of the Ancient 
Empire (Fig. 40). 

We know from the pyramids, from the temple of the sphinx, 
and from some of the mastabas, that the Egyptian workmen were 
thoroughly efficient in the cutting and dressing of stone, even in 
the time of the first monarchs. However far we go back in the 
history of Egypt we find no trace of any method of construction 
' PiERRET, Diclionnaire d" ArcMologie Agypt'ttmie. 

64 A History of Art in Ancient EcvrT. 

corresponding to that which is called Cyclopean in the case of the 
Greeks. We find no walls built like those of Tiryns, with huge 
and shapeless masses of rock, the interstices being filled in with 
small stones. We do not even find polygonal masonry — by which 
we mean walls formed of stone dressed with the chisel, but with 
irregular joints, and with stones of very different size and shape 
placed in juxtaposition with one another. In the ancient citadels 
of Greece and Italy this kind of construction is to be found in 
every variety, but in Egypt the stones are always arranged into 
horizontal courses. Here and there the vertical joints are not 
quite vertical, and sometimes we find stones which rise higher, or 
sink lower, than the course to which they belong, tying it to the 
one above it or below it. Such 
accidents as these do not, how- 
\ ever, affect the general rule, which 

v*A was to keep each course self- 

^r contained and parallel with the 

\'^ soil. All these varieties in 

J Egyptian masonry may be seen 

^^^^^ in a horizontal section of the 

r)fij first pylon at Karnak {Fig. 41). 

1 ^ This pylon is in such a ruined 

state that by means of photo- 
graphs taken from different sides 
we can form a very exact idea of 
its internal composition.' 

Fig. 40.— Wooden pavilion, from a bas- r.rpat r-arc \n pvpnifinn anH 

relief at Luxor (Champoiiion, pi. 339). oreat care in execution, ana 

great size in the units of con- 
struction, are only to be found in comparatively few of the 
Egyptian monuments. We have already remarked upon the 
painstaking skill with which the granite or limestone casing of the 
chambers and passages in the Gizeh pyramids was fixed. Certain 
buildings of the Theban period, such as the vaulted chapels in the 
Great Temple at Abydos, and the courts of Medinet-Abou, are 
notable for excellence of a similar kind. Everything, however, 
must in this respect give way to the Grand Gallery in the pyramid 
of Cheops. 

The Egypt of the early Pharaohs set more than one good 
' This pylon dales from the Ptolemies, but if there was anything that did not 
change in Egypt, it was their piocesses of construction. 

Construction. 65 

example which later generations failed to follow. The extra- 
ordinary number of buildings which the great Theban princes 
carried on at one and the same time, from the depths of Nubia 
to the shores of the Mediterranean, made their subjects more 
easily satisfied in the matter of architectural thoroughness. The 
habit of covering every plain surface with a brilliant polychro- 
matic decoration contributed to the same result. The workmen 
were always hurried. There were hardly hands enough for all the 
undertakings on foot at once. How, then, could they be expected 
to lavish minute care upon joints which were destined to be hidden 
behind a coat of stucco ? We never encounter in Egyptian 
buildings any of those graceful varieties of masonry which have 
been adopted from time to time by all those artistic nations that 
have left their stonework bare. None of the various kinds of 
rustication, none of the alternation of square with oblong blocks 
none of that undeviating regularity in the height of the courses 
and in the direction of the joints which by itself is enough to 
give beauty to a building, is to be found in the work of Egyptian 

It was for similar motives that the Egyptians did not, as a rule, 
care to use very large stones. Their obelisks and colossal statues 
prove that they knew how to quarry and raise blocks of enormous 
size, but they never made those efforts except when they had good 
reason to do so. They did not care to exhaust themselves with 
dragging huge stones up on to their buildings, where they 
would ever after be lost to sight under the stucco. In the most 
carefully built Theban edifices the average size of the stones 
hardly exceeds that of the materials which are used by our 
modern architects, A single course was from 30 to 38 inches 
high, and the length of the blocks varied between 5 feet 
and rather more than 8. In the great pylon of Karnak the 
lintel over the doorway is a stone beam more than 25 feet 
long. In the hypostyle hall the architraves of the central aisle 

J This has been well shown by Champollion d propos of one of the Nubian 
buildings constructed by the Theban kings. He speaks thus of the hemispeos of 
Wadi-Esseboua : " This is the worst piece of work extant from the reign of Rameses 
the Great. The stones are ill-cut ; their intervals are masked by a layer of cement 
over which the sculptured decoration, which is poorly executed, is continued. . . . 
Most of this decoration is now incomprehensible because the cement upon which 
a great part of it was carried out, has fallen down and left many and large gaps in 
the scenes and inscriptions.'' — Lettres d^Egypte et de Nubie, 121. 


66 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

are at least 29 feet long.^ It is said that some attain a length of 
nearly 32 feet. 

The Egyptian architect was therefore quite ready to use mono- 
liths of exceptional size for the covering of voids when they were 
necessary, but he did not wantonly create that necessity, as those 
of other nations have often done. Most of the travellers who 
visit Egypt expect to find huge monolithic shafts rearing their 
lofty heads on every side, and their surprise is great when they 
are told that the huge columns of the hypostyle halls are not cut 
from single blocks. Their first illusion is fostered by the large 
number of monolithic granite columns which are found at Erment 
\ at Antino^ at Cairo, in most of the modern Egyptian mosques. 

When they arrive at Thebes they discover their error. At 
Karnak and at Luxor, at Medinet-Abou and in the Ramesseum, the 
columns are made up of drums placed one upon another. In many 
cases even these drums are not monolithic, but consist of several 
different stones. Under the Roman domination the Egyptians 
deliberately chose to make their columns of single stones, and 
most of those which are of exceptional size date from that late 
epoch. We know but one case to which these remarks do not 
apply ; we mean that of the monolithic supports in the chambers 
of the labyrinth which were mentioned by Strabo, and discovered, 
as some believe, by Lepsius.^ We are told by that traveller 
they were of granite, but he only saw them when broken. Strabo 
says that the chambers were roofed in with slabs of such a size 
that they amazed every one who saw them, and added much to the 
effect which that famous structure was otherwise calculated to 
produce. Prisse describes and figures a column of red granite 
which he ascribes to Amenophis III., and which, according to 
him, was brought from Memphis to Cairo. Without the base 
which, as given in his drawing, must be a restoration, it is 13 feet 
8^ inches high, including the capital.^ It belongs to the same 
kind of pillar as those observed by Lepsius in the Fayoum. In a 
painting in one of the Gournah tombs, three workmen are shown 
polishing a column exactly similar to that figured by Prisse, with the 
single exception that its proportions are more slender (Fig. 42). 
Monolithic columns of red granite have been discovered to the 

1 Description de V Agypte^ Antiguith^ vol. ii. p. 437. 

' Strabo, xvii. 37. — Lepsius, Briefe aus jEgypten^ p. 74. 

^ Prisse, Hisloire de PArt Agyptien^ text, p. 364. 


:il ■ 






west of the present city of Alexandria which are nearly 22 feet 
high. Their capitals are imitated from truncated lotus-buds, like 
that in Fig. 42. 

It would seem, then, that monolithic columns were in fashion 
during the early centuries of the second Theban empire, but that, 
in later times, the general custom was to build up columns, some- 
times for their whole height, of moderately sized, and sometimes 
of very small stones (Fig. 17).^ 

To all that concerns the quality of the building similar remarks 
may be applied. We have mentioned a few examples of careful 
and scientific construction, but, as a rule, Egyptian buildings were 
put together in a fashion that was careless in the extreme.^ The 
foundations were neither wide enough nor deep enough. It is not 

Fig. 42. — Workmen polishing a monolithic column ; Champollion, pi. i6i. 

until we come to the remains of the Ptolemaic period, such as the 
temples at Edfou and Denderah, that we discover foundations 
sinking 16 or 18 feet into the ground. The Pharaonic temples 
were laid upon the surface rather than solidly rooted in the soil. 
Mariette attributes the destruction which has overtaken the 
temples at Karnak less to the violence of man or to earth- 
quakes than to inherent faults of construction, and to the want 

* The columns at Luxor are constructed in courses. The joints of the stone are 
worked carefully for only about a third of their whole diameter. Their centres are 
slightly hollowed out and filled in with a mortar of pounded brick which has become 
friable. {Description de i'^gypte, Antiquith^ vol. ii. p. 384.) 

* See p. 29, vol. i. (Note i) and p. 170. The engineers who edited the Description 
make similar remarks with regard to Karnak. {Antiguites, vol. iL pp. 414 
and 500.) 

yo A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of foresight shown by their architects in not placing them at a 
sufficient elevation above the inundations. For many centuries 
the waters of the Nile have reached the walls of the temples by 
infiltration, and have gradually eaten away the sandstone of which 
they are composed. " Similar causes produce similar effects, and 
the time may be easily foreseen when the superb hypostyle hall 
will yield to the attacks of its enemy, and its columns, already 
eaten through for three quarters of their thickness, will fall as 
those of the western court have fallen." ^ 

Ax, the time when Karnak was built there were in the country 
buildings which were from ten to fifteen centuries old, to which 
the architects of the time might have turned for information upon 
doubtful points. In them the gradual rising of the valley level 
must have been clearly shown. This want of foresight need 
cause us, however, no great surprise ; but it is otherwise with the 
carelessness of the architects in arranging their plans, and in 
failing to compel the workmen to follow those plans when made. 
" Except in a few rare instances/' says Mariette, " the Egyptian 
workman was far from deserving the reputation he has gained for 
precision and care in the execution of his task. Only those who 
have personally measured the tombs and temples of Egypt know 
how often, for instance, the opposite walls of a single chamber are 
unequal in height." ^ 

The custom of building as fast as possible and trusting to the 
painted decoration for the concealment of all defects, explains 
the method most usually taken to keep the materials together. 
The system of using large dressed stones made the employment 
of mortar unnecessary. The Greeks, who used the same method 
and obtained from it such supreme effects, put no mortar between 
their stones. Sometimes they were held together by tenons of 
metal or wood, but the builder depended for cohesion chiefly upon 
the way. in which his materials were dressed and fixed. The 
two surfaces were so intimately allied that the points of junction 
were almost invisible. The Egyptians were in like manner able 
to depend upon the vis inertice of their materials for the stability 
of their walls, and their climate was far better fitted even than 
that of Greece for the employment of those wooden or metal 

* Marieite, Itinh-aire^ p. 179. The pavement of the great temple is now about 
six feet below the general level of the surrounding plain. 

* Mariette, Lts Tombes de VAncien Empire^ p. 10. - 

Construction. 7 1 

tenons which would prevent any slipping or settlement in the 
interior of the masonry. The dangers attending such methods^ of 
fixing would thus be reduced to a minimum. "In consequence 
of a dislocation in the walls caused by the insufficiency of the 
foundations, it is possible, at several points of the temple walls 
at Abydos, to introduce the arm between the stones and feel the 
sycamore dovetails still in place and in an extraordinary state 
of preservation. A few of these dovetails have been extracted, 
and, although walled in for eternity so far as the intentions of the 
Egyptians were concerned, they bear the royal ovals of Seti I., the 
founder of the temple, the hieroglyphs being very finely engraved."^ 

We see, then, that in many buildings the Egyptians employed 
methods which demanded no little patience, skill, and attention 
from the workman, but as a rule they preferred to work in a 
more expeditious and less careful fashion. They used a cement 
made of sand and lime ; traces of it are everywhere found, both in 
the ruins of Thebes and in the pyramids, between the blocks 
of limestone and sandstone.^ Still more did bricks require the use 
of mortar, which in their case was often little more than mud. 

Among the processes made use of for the construction of the 
great temple at Thebes there was one which bore marks of the 
same tendency. Mariette tells us that traces exist in the front of 
the great temple of a huge inclined plane made of large crude 
bricks. This incline was used for the construction of the pylon. 
The great stones were dragged up its slopes, and as the pylon 
grew, so did the mass of crude brick. When the work was 
finished the bricks were cleared away, but the internal face of 
the pylon still bears traces of their position against it. This work 
was carried out, according to Mariette, under the Ptolemies,^ but 
the primitive method of raising the stones must have come down 
from times much more remote.^ 

' Mariette, Abydos^ vol. i. p. 8. — Catalogue genkral dcs Monuments d^Abydos^ 
p. 585. Similar tenons were found by the members of the Institut d'^gvpte in the 
walls of the great hall at Kamak (Description de (""Agypte^ Antiquites, vol. ii. p. 442. 
— See also Plates^ vol. ii. pi. 57, iigs. i and 2). We took this illustration for our 
guide in compiling our diagram of Egyptian bonding in Fig. 6g. 

2 Description de VEgypte^ Ant.^ vol. v. p. 153. Jomard, Recueil d' Observations et 
de Mcmoires sur V Agypte Ancienne et Modeme^ vol. iv. p. 41. 

* Marieite, Kamaky p. 18. 

* This is clearly indicated by Diodorus (i. 63, 66) : rr/v Karaa-Kfvrjv hiA xiafmrwy 

72 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The first travellers who visited Egypt in modern times were 
struck with the colossal size of some buildings and of a few 
monoliths, and jumped to the conclusion that the Egyptians were 
peculiarly skilled in mechanics and engineering. They declared, 
and it has been often repeated, that this people possessed secrets 
which were afterwards lost ; that many an Archimedes flourished 
among them who excelled his Syracusan successor. All this was 
a pure illusion. Their only machines seem to have been levers 
and perhaps a kind of elementary crane. ^ The whole secret of 
the Egyptians consisted in their unlimited command of individual 
labour, and in the unflinching way in which they made use of it. 
Multitudes were employed upon a single building, and kept to 
their work by the rod of the overseer until it was finished. The 
great monoliths were placed upon rafts at the foot of the mountains 
in which they were quarried, and floated during the inundation by 
river and canal to a point as near as possible to their destined sites. 
They were then placed upon sledges to which hundreds of men 
were harnessed, and dragged over a well-oiled wooden causeway to 
their allotted places. Fig. 43, which is taken from a hypogeum of 
the twelfth dynasty, gives an excellent idea of the way in which 
^these masses of granite were transported. In this picture we see 
one hundred and seventy-two men arranged in pairs and, to use a 
military term, in four columns, dragging the sledge of a huge seated 
colossus by four ropes.^ This colossus must have been about 
twenty-six feet high, if the pictured proportions between the statue 
and its convoy may be taken as approaching the truth. Upon the 
pedestal stands a man, who pours water upon the planks so that 
they shall not catch fire from the friction of so great a mass.^ 
The engineer, who presides over the whole operation, stands 
upright upon the knees of the statue and ** marks time '' with his 
hands. At the side of the statue walk men carrying instruments 
of various kinds, overseers armed with rattans, and relays of men 
to take the place of those who may fall out of the ranks from 

^ Wilkinson, Manners and Customs^ etc., vol. ii. p. 309. In speaking of the 
pyramids Herodotus mentions what seems to have been a kind of crane, but he 
gives us no information as to its principle or arrangement (ii. 125). 

5* The painting in question dates from the reign of Ousourtesen II. and was found 
at El-Bercheh, a short distance above the ruins of Antinoe. 

^ The position of this man and the general probabilities of the case suggest 
perhaps, that his jar contains oil rather than water. — Ed. 

Construction. 75 

fatigue. In the upper part we see a numerous troop of Egyptians 
carrying palm branches, who seem to be leading the procession. 

From the first centuries of the monarchy blocks of granite of 
unusual size were thus transferred from place to place. We learn 
this from the epitaph of a high official named Una, who lived in 
the time of the sixth dynasty.^ He recounts the services which, he 
had rendered in bringing to Memphis the blocks of granite and 
alabaster required for the royal undertakings. Mention is made 
of buildings which had been constructed for the reception of 
monoliths. The largest of those buildings was 60 cubits (about 
102 feet) long by 30 cubits wide. A little farther on we are told 
that one monolith required 3,000 men for its transport. 

Thanks to their successful wars the great Theban princes 
had far wider resources at their command than their predecessors. 
Their architects could count upon the labour not only of the 
fellahs of the corvde^ but also upon thousands of foreign prisoners. 
It was not astonishing, therefore, that the enterprises of the 
ancient empire were thrown into the shade. Neither were the 
Sait monarchs behind those of Thebes. According to Herodotus 
the monolithic chapel which Amasis brought from the Elephantine 
quarries was 39 feet high by nearly 23 feet wide and 13 feet deep, 
outside measurement.^ Taking the hollow inside into con- 
sideration such a stone must have weighed about 48 tons. 
Two thousand boatmen were occupied for three years in trans- 
porting this chapel from Elephantine into the Delta. Another 
town in the same region must have had a still larger monolithic 
chapel, if we are to believe the Greek historian's account of it. 
It was square, and each of its sides measured 40 cubits (nearly 
70 feet).^ 

How did they set about erecting their obelisks .'* Upon this 
point we have no information whatever, either from inscriptions 
or from figured monuments. They may have used an inclined 
plane, to the summit of which the obelisk was drawn by the force 

^ Brugsch, Histoire iV J&gypte^ vol. i. pp. 74 ^/ seq, 

^ We agree with Wilkinson in taking for the height that which Herodotus calls 
the length. In all monuments of the kind the height is the largest measurement. 
Herodotus's phrase is easily explained. The monolith appears to have been lying 
in front of the temple into which they had failed to introduce it. {Kdrax vapa rrp^ 
co-oSov, he says). Its height had thus become its length. 

* Herodotus, ii. 155. 

76 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of innumerable arms, and then lowered by the gradual removal of 
the part supporting its lower end. It is certain that the process 
. was often a slow and laborious one. We know from an in- 
scription that the obelisk which now stands before the church of 
San Giovanni Laterano in Rome was more than thirty-lfive years 
in the hands of the workmen charged with its erection in the 
southern quarter of Thebes.^ Sometimes, however, much more 
rapid progress was made. According to the inscription on the 
base of the obelisk of Hatasu at Karnak, the time consumed upon 
it, from the commencement of work in the quarry to its final 
erection at Thebes, was only seven months,^ 

Whatever may have been their methods we may be sure 
that there was nothing complicated or particularly learned in 
them. The erection of the obelisks, like that of the colossal 
statues, must have been an affair merely of time and of the 
number of arms employed. 

** One day," says Maxime du Camp, " I was sitting upon one 
of the architraves supported by the columns of the great hall 
at Karnak, and, glancing over the forest of stone which 
surrounded me, I involuntarily cried out : ' But how did they 
do all this ? ' " 

** My dragoman, Joseph, who is a great philosopher, over- 
heard my exclamation, and began to laugh. He touched my arm, 
and pointing to a palm tree whose tall stem rose in the distance, 
he said : * That is what they did it all with ; a hundred thousand 
palm-branches broken over the backs of people whose shoulders 
are never covered, will create palaces and temples enough. 
Ah yes, sir, that was a bad time for the date trees ; their branches 
were cut a good deal faster than they grew ! ' And he laughed 
softly to himself as he caressed his beard.'' 

** Perhaps he was right." ^ 

^ The text in question is quoted in the notes contributed by Dr. Birch to the last 
edition of Wilkinson (vol. ii. p. 308, note 2). Pliny's remarks upon the obelisks 
are intersprinkled with fabulous stories and contain no useful information (H. N., 
xxxvi. 14). 

^ PiERRET, Dictionnaire <V Archkologie Agyptienne, (The dates upon which this 
assertion depends have been disputed. M. Chabas reads the inscription- "from 
the first of Muchir in the year 16, to the last of Mesore in 17," making nineteen 
months in all, a period which is not quite so impossible as that ordinarily 
quoted. — Ed.) 

^ Maxime du Camp, Le Nih pp. 261 and 262. 

The Arch. 77 

§ 4. The Arch, 

We have already said that among the Egyptians the arch was 
only of secondary importance ; that it was only used in accessory 
parts of their buildings. We are compelled to return to the 
subject, however, because a wrong idea has generally been 
adopted which, a^ in the case of the monoliths, we must combat 
evidence in hand. The extreme antiquity of the arch in Egypt is 
seldom suspected. 

It was an article of faith with the architects of the last century 
that the arch was discovered by the Etruscans. The engineers 
of the French expedition did not hesitate to declare every arch 
which they found in Egypt to be no older in date than the 
Roman occupation. But since the texts have been interpreted 
it has been proved that there is more than one arch in Egypt 
which was constructed not only as early as the Ptolemies, but 
even under the Pharaohs. Wilkinson mentions brick arches 
and vaults bearing the names of Amenophis I., and Thothmes III. 
at Thebes, and judging from the paintings at Beni-Hassan, he 
is inclined to believe that they understood the principle as early 
as the twelfth dynasty.^ 

Wilkinson was quite right in supposing these eighteenth 
dynasty vaults to be from the first constructed by Egyptian 
architects. The scarcity of good timber must soon have set them 
to discover some method of covering a void which should be more 
convenient than flat ceilings, and as the supply always follows the 
demand, they must have been thus led towards the inevitable 
discovery. The latest editor of Wilkinson, Dr. Birch, affirms 
more than once that the arch has been recently discovered among 
the remains from the Ancient Empire, and in the Itin^raire 
of Mariette we find :^ '* It is by no means rare to find in the 
necropolis of Abydos, among the tombs of the thirteenth and 
even of the sixth dynasty, vaults which are not only pointed in 
section as a whole, but which are made up of bricks in the form 
of voussoirsy Being anxious that no uncertainity upon such a 

* Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc., vol. i. pp. 357-358; vol. ii. pp. 262, 
2 P. 148. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

subject should remain, we asked Mariette for more information 
during the last winter but one that he spent in Egypt. We 
received the following answer, dated 29th January, 1880 : " I have 
just consulted my journal of the Abydos excavations. I there 
find an entry relating to a tomb of the sixth dynasty with the 
accompanying drawing (Fig. 44) : a is in limestone, and there 
can be no doubt that in it we have a keystone in the form of 
a true voussoir ; b, b^ are also of stone. The rest is made up 
of crude bricks, rectangular in shape, and kept in place by pebbles 
imbedded in the cement. 

*' Obviously, we have here the principle of the arch. Speaking 
generally, I believe that the Egyptians were acquainted with that 
principle from the earliest times. They did not make an extensive 

use of the arch because they 
knew that it carried within it 
the seeds of its own death. 
Une maille rongde emporte tout 
Vouvrage^ and a bad stone in a 
vault may ruin a whole build- 
ing. The Egyptians preferred 
their indestructible stone beams. 
I often ask myself how much 
would have been left to us of 
their tombs and temples if they 
had used the arch instead.** ^ 
Mariette adds that the Serapeum contains the oldest known 
example of a vault of dressed stone, and as it dates from the 
time of Darius the son of Hystaspes, we suppose that the fine 
limestone arch at Sakkarah, bearing the cartouch of Psemethek I., 
which is figured at the head of Sir Gardner Wilkinson's tenth 
chapter, no longer exists. 

It was in their brick buildings that the Egyptians chiefly 
employed arches. Such structures were looked upon as less 
sacred, less monumental than those in which stone was used, 
and a process might therefore be admitted which would be 
excluded from the latter. We shall here give several examples 
of the Egyptian arch and its principal varieties, and it will not 
surprise our readers to find that they are all taken from the New 
Empire. The remains from earlier periods consist almost entirely 

* **An arch never sleeps" says the Arab proverb. 

Fig. 44. — Arch in the necropolis of Abydos ; 
communicated by Mariette. 

The Arch. 79 

of tombs, while those left to us by the eighteenth dynasty and its 
successors are of vast dimensions, such as the great Theban 
temples, and have annexes comprising buildings erected for a vast 
variety of purposes. 

Groined vaults were unknown to the Egyptians, but almob. 
every variety of arch and of plain vault is to be found in the 

The semicircular arch is more frequently met with than any 
other. That which exists in an old tomb at Abydos has been 
already figured (Fig. 44), we shall give two more examples, 
dating from the Sait epoch. The illustration below (Fig. 45), 
represents the gate in the encircling wall of one of the tombs in 
the valley of El-Assassif, at Thebes. The wall diminishes gradually 
in thickness from sixteen feet eight inches at the bottom to nine 

- I 


Fig. 45, — Arch in El-As«assif, prerent condition ; from Lepsius. 

feet nine inches at the top, both faces being equally inclined. 
This latter feature is a rare one in Egypt, the slope being as a 
rule confined to the external face. In order to show it clearly 
we have interrupted the wall vertically in our illustration, isolating 
the part in which the arch occurs (Fig. 46), and restoring the 
summit. The arch itself is formed of nine courses of brick. 

The sarcophagus in " Campbell's Tomb " is protected by a plain 
cylindrical vault of four courses (see Fig. 200, vol. i.), which covers 
a polygonal vault formed of three large slabs. Both vaults are 
pierced by a narrow opening, which may, perhaps, have been 
intended to allow the scents and sounds of the world above to 
reach the occupant of the sarcophagus. Its arrangement is so 
careful that it must have had some important purpose to fulfil. 

In the group of ruins which surrounds the back parts of the 
Ramesseum (see p. 379, vol. i.) there are vaults of various kinds. A 

So A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

few verge slightly towards the pointed form (see Fig. 47), others 
are elliptic {Fig. 48). The latter are composed of four courses, 
and their inner surfaces show a curious arrangement of the bricks ; 
their vertical joints are not parallel to either axis of the vault. 
The ends of the courses are slightly set off from its face 
(see Fig. 48). 

Fio. 46. — Arch in El-As^assif, restored from the plans aud elevftliont of Lepsius.' 

A tonib near the Valley of tke Queens, at Thebes, has a strongly 
marked elliptical vault (Fig. 49).* 

Finally, the inverted segmental arch is not unknown. It is 
found employed in a fashion which, as described by Prisse, made 
a great impression upon Viollet-le-Duc. " The foundations of 
certain boundary walls," says the former, "are built of baked 
bricks to a height of one-and-a-half metres (about four feet ten 

' DenknmUr, part i. pi, 94. 

* Ramee, His/oire ghiiralt dt F Architecture, vol i. p. 262. 

The Arch. 

inches) above the ground. The bricks are thirty-one centimetres 
(about twelve-and-a -quarter inches) long, and the courses are 
arranged in a long succession of inverted segmental arches." ^ 

FlO. 47.— Vaulls in the Rainc;s< 

Our figure has been compiled from the plans and elevations of 
Prisse with a view to making the arrangement easily understood 

Fig. 4S. — Vault in the Ramssseiun ; compikd from the data of LepE^iu^. 

{Fig. 50) ; it represents the lower part of one of the walls in 
question. According to M. Viollet-le-Duc, the Egyptian architects 

• Peisse, Hhtoire de I' Art Agvptieiit p. 174. — Mariette {Voyage dans la Haute- 
^gypte, vol. ii. pp. S9-60) was struck by a similar arrangement " Murray's Guide," 
he says, "tells us, in speaking of Dayr-el-Medineh, that the walls which inclose the 
courts of this temple present a striking peculiarity of construction. Their bricks are 
laid in concave-convex courses which rise and fall alternately over the whole length 
of the walls." This curious arrangement deserved to be noticed, but Dayr-el-Medineh 

VOL. ir. M 

82 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

had recourse to this contrivance in order to guard against the 
effects of earthquakes. He shows clearly that a wall built in such 
a fashion would offer a much more solid resistance to their attacks 
than one with foundations com- 
posed of horizontal courses.' 

If we are to take it as estab- 
lished that the vault or arch was 
among the primitive methods of 
i,j' i Egyptian construction, we have 

V ' no reason to believe that off-set 

arches were older, in Egypt at 
Fig. 49.-Emptical vauu ; Thebes. I^ast, than true arches. We 

have described this form of arch 
elsewhere, and explained the contrivance by which the superficial 
appearance of a vault was obtained.^ The process could obviously 

FiQ. JO. — Foandntions with inverted segmental arches ; compiled from Frisse. 

only be carried out in stone. We shall here content ourselves 
with giving two examples of its employment 

The first dates from the eighteenth dynasty, and occurs in the 
temple of Dayr-el-Bahari.^ Our Fig. 51 gives a transverse 

is not the only place where it is to be found. The bounding wall of the temple of 
Osiris at Abydos affords another instance of it. It should also be noticed that the 
problem offered to us by such a mode of building is complicated by the fact that, 
in the quay at Esneh and in some parts of the temple of Philse it is combined with 
the use of very large sandstone blocks." 

' ViOLLET-LE-Duc, Htstoirt de I' Habitation humaine, pp. 85-88. Alberti and 
other Renaissance architects recommended this method of construction for building 
Upon a soft surface. (E Architeftura di Zeon Batista Alberti, tradotta in lingua 
fiorentina da Cosimo Barfoli, Venice, 1565, 4to, p. 70,) 

' See p. no, Vol. I., and Figs. 74, 75, 76, * See p. in , Vol. I., etseq. 

The Arch. 


section of a passage leading to one of the chambers cut 
the rock. Fig. 52 offers a view in per- 
spective of the same passage and of the 
discharging chamber which really bears 
the thrust of the weight above. 

The second example of this con- 
struction comes from a famous work of the 
nineteenth dynasty, the temple of Seti I. 
at Abydos. Our figure {53) shows one 
of the curious row of chapels in which 
the originality of that building consists,^ 
This quasi-vault, for which Mariette finds 
a reason in the funerary character of the 
building, has been obtained by cutting into three huge sandstone 

LG. 51. — Transverse section of 
n corridor at Dayr-el-Babu'i ; 
from Lepsius, i. pL 87. 

rridor ; composed from Ibe elevation 

' See also pp. 385-392, Vol. I. and Fig. 234. — Our perspective has been compiled 
from the Description de I'Agypfe, from Mariette's work and from photographs. 

84 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

slabs in each horizontal course. The stone forming the crown of 
the vault is especially large. 

Brick vaults and arches must have been far more numerous 
in Egypt than might be supposed from the few examples that 
remain. They must have suggested the use of off-set vaults in 
the case of stone, which, it must not be forgotten, would seem to 
the Egyptians to offer all the advantages of a vault without its 
drawbacks. In other countries the stages of progression were dif- 
ferent, and the true arch came very late into use ; but in Egypt it 
certainly seems to have preceded the off-set arch. In the valley of 

Fig. S3.— Vnulted chapel at Abydos, 

the Nile the latter is an imitative form. The form of elliptic arch 
which we find in certain funerary chambers at Abydos seems to 
show this. When the architect of a tomb or temple wished to 
substitute a concave surface for a fiat ceiling he made use of this 
hollowed-out vault. He thus saved himself from any anxiety as 
to the stability of his structure, he avoided the necessity of intro- 
ducing what would seem to him a cause of eventual destruction, 
while he gave variety of line and, perhaps, additional symbolic 
meaning to his work. 

The Egyptian Orders. 85 

§ 5 The Pier and Column, — The Egyptian Orders. 


After the wall and the covering which the wall supports, we 
must study in some detail the pier, and the column which is the 
perfected form of the pier. Thanks to these latter elements 
of construction the architect is able to cover large spaces without 
impeding circulation, to exactly apportion the strength and number 
of his points of support to the weight to be carried and to the 
other conditions of the problem. By the form of their bases and 
capitals, by the proportions of their shafts, by the ornament laid 
upon them in colour or chiselled in their substance, he is enabled 
to give an artistic richness and variety which are practically 
infinite. Their arrangements and the proportions of their spacing 
are also of the greatest importance in the production of eflfect. 

In attempting to define a style of architecture and its individual 
expression, there is no part to which so much attention should be 
paid as the column. It should be examined, in the first place, 
as an isolated individual, with a stature and physiognomy proper 
to itself. Then in its social state, if we may use such a phrase ; 
in the various groups which go to make porticos, hypostyle halls, 
and colonnades. We shall begin, therefore, by examining what may 
be called the Egyptian orders, and afterwards we shall describe 
the principal combinations in which they were employed by the 
Theban architects. 

Our readers must remember the distinction, to which we called 
attention in the early part of our task, between two systems co- 
existing at one and the same time in Egypt ; wooden architecture 
and that in which stone was the chief material used.^ Under the 
Ancient Empire the only kind of detached support which appears 
to have been known in stone architecture, was the quadrangular 
pier, examples of which we find in the Temple of the Sphinx (Fig. 
204, vol. i.). It was not so, however, in wooden construction. We 
find in the bas-reliefs belonging to that early epoch numerous 
representations of wooden columns, which, though all possessing 
the same slender proportions, were surmounted by capitals of 

* See Chapter II. vol. i. 

A History of Art in Ancient Egvpt. 

various designs. In these capitals occur the first suggestions of 
the forms which were afterwards developed with success in 
stone architecture. 

The type of capital which occurs most frequently in the buildings 
of the New Empire is certainly that which has been compared to 
a truncated lotus-bud ; * we may call it the lotiform capital, and 
a bas-relief has come down to us from the fifth dynasty, in which 
two columns are shown crowned by capitals of this type, differing 
only from later stone examples in their more elongated forms 
(Figs. 54 and 55). 

After the type of capital just mentioned, that which occurs most 
frequently at Karnak and elsewhere is the campanifornt type, in 
which the general outline resembles that of an inverted bell. It 
has been referred to the imitation of the lotus-flower when in full 
bloom. However that may be, it is the fact that in a bas-relief 
of the fifth dynasty we find a capital presenting the outline, in 
full detail, of a lotus-flower which has just opened its petals 
(Figs. 56 and 57). 

Rarer and later types than these are also foreshadowed in 
the early bas-reliefs. We shall hereafter have to speak of a 
campaniform capital in which the bell is not inverted, in the part 

' These slender columns with lotiform capitals are figured in considerable number 
in the tomb of Ti. Hariette, Voyage dans la Haufe-Agypie, vol. i. pi 10. 

The Egyptian Orders. 


constructed by Thothmes of the great temple at Karnak. Its 
prototype may certainly be recognized in a figured pavilion 
at Sakkarah, dating from the sixth dynasty. We reproduce it 
from a squeeze sent to us by M. Bourgoin (Figs. 58 and 59). 

Fig. 57. — Details of columns ia Fig. 56. 

Fig, 59. — Details ol column in Fig. 58. 

During the Ptolemaic period, the Egyptian architects made 
frequent use of the form of capital which is now called hathoric, 
in which a masque of Hathpr, the cow-headed goddess, is the 
ruling principle. This capital is to be seen, in a rudimentary 

88 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

condition, in a pavilion dating from the fifth dynasty {Figs. 60 
and 61). It there occurs, as will be seen by referring to our 
illustrations, as the roughly blocked-out head of a cow. 

In connection with the last two bas-reliefs, we must call attention 
to the fact that the structures from which they were imitated must 
have been erected in some kind of metal. Their forms are incon- 
sistent with the use of any other material. The way in which the 
capital is connected with the member to which it acts as support, 
in Fig. 59, and the open-work of the architrave in Fig. 61, are 
especially suggestive. In the latter bas-relief the figures intro- 
duced are evidently behind a grille, and the whole structure is 
expressive of metal-work. 

We suspect that the pavilion shown in Fig. 56 was also of 
metal, which seems to have played an important part in all that 
light form of architecture with which we make acquaintance in the 
sepulchral decorations. '^This is very clearly seen in the examples 
of painted columns, which we borrow from Prisse (Figs. 62 — 65). 
They present forms which could only have been compassed by the 
use of some metal like bronze. If the use of metal be admitted, 
we have no difficulty in accounting for the playful and slender 
grace found in some of these columns, and the ample tufted 
capitals of others. The natural tendency in painted decorations 
of this kind to exaggerate the characteristics of their models must 
not, however, be overlooked. Not being compelled to apportion 
the strength of supports to the weight which they have to carry. 

The Egyptian Orders. 

it is always inclined to elongate forms. The decorations at 
Pompeii are a striking instance of this. Pompeian painters gave 
impossible proportions to their columns, which evidently existed 

Figs. 6x~6i. —Columns from bas-reliefs (Prisse) 

no where but in their own fancies. We admit that the Egyptian 
decorators did something of the same kind, that they exaggerated 
proportions and accumulated motives on a single capital, which 


go A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

were not to be found co-existing in reality. But, with these 
reserves, we think it more than probable that the columns shown 
in their paintings have preserved the general aspect of the 
supports employed in those curiously elegant pavilions to which 
they belonged. The forms in Fig. 62 are explained, on the one 
hand, by the imitation of vegetable forms, on the other by the 
behaviour of a metal plate under the hand of the workman. The 
curve which was afterwards, under the name of a volute^ to play 
such an important part in Greek architecture, was thus naturally 

It will thus be seen that during the Ancient Empire the lighter 
forms of architecture were far in advance of that which made use 
of stone. It possessed a richness and variety of its own, which 
were rendered possible by the comparative ease with which wood 
and metal could be manipulated, an ease which gradually led the 
artist onwards to the invention of forms conspicuous for their 
playful originality and their singular diversity. 

As for the quadrangular pier, with which the stone architecture 
of the Ancient Empire was contented, we are assured that it had 
its origin in the rock-cut tombs. In the oldest works of the 
kind in Egypt, the funerary grottos of Memphis, " these piers (we 
are told) owe their existence to the natural desire to cause the 
light from without to penetrate to a second or even to a third 
chamber. In order to obtain this result, openings were made in 
the front wall on each side of the door, and the parts of the rock 
which were left for support became for that reason objects 
of care, and finally took the form of piers. The rock over these 
piers was the prototype of the architrave." ^ 

It may be so. But, on the other hand, the pier of dressed 
stone may have had a still more simple qrigin. It may have 
resulted from, the obvious requirements of construction. As soon 
as wooden buildings began to be supplemented by work in stone, 
it became necessary to find supports strong enough for the weight 
of stone roofs. Nothing: could be more natural than to take a 

^ Ebers, ^gypten^ vol. ii., p. 186. All this passage of Ebers is, how- 
ever, nothing more than an epitome of a paper by Lepsius, entitled : Ueber einige 
/Hgyptische Kunstformen und ihre EnHvickelimg (in the Transactions of the Berlin 
Academy^ 187 1, 4to). This paper contains many just observations and ingenious 
notions ; but, to our mind it is over systematized, and its theories cannot all 
be accepted. 

The Egyptian Orders. 91 

block of stone as it came from the quarry, and to set it up on end. 
In course of time its faces would be dressed and its section 
accommodated to a square, for the love of symmetry is innate in 
man. The pier may also be seen foreshadowed in the squared 
beams of that closed form of wooden architecture which has been 
already noticed. 

We see, then, that the earliest Egyptian art of which we have 
any remains comprised the principal elements of which later 
architects made use. But it is among the ruins of the great 
monuments constructed during the Theban supremacy that we 
must attempt to form an exhaustive list of their architectural 
forms, and to show how the genius of the race, obeying that 
mysterious law which governs all organic development, arrived at 
the complete realization of the ideal towards which it had been 
advancing through so many centuries. At Thebes alone can the 
architectural genius of the Egyptians be judged. 


In the following pages all the principal varieties of Egyptian 
pier and column are passed in review. We believe that no type 
of any importance has been omitted. The illustrations are all 
drawn to one scale of about ten feet to the inch. The difference 
in the size of the reproductions is therefore a guide to the relative 
proportions of the originals, and an idea can be easily formed of 
their comparative importance in the buildings in which they occur. 

The quadrangular pier is the simplest form of support, and, as "^ 
might be expected, it is also the most ancient In the example 
which we have taken from a tomb in the necropolis of Sakkarah, 
a tomb dating from the Ancient Empire, it has already a base (Fig. 
66), an addition which is not to be found in the Temple of the 
Sphinx (Fig. 204, vol. i.). Elsewhere it tapers to the top; an 
instance of this, dating from a much later period, is found in the 
speos of Phr^, at Ipsamboul (Fig. 67). In all these cases the 
architrave rests directly upon the shaft, an arrangement which 
gives the pier an archaic character in spite of its base. 

A very different appearance was obtained when, in the time of 
Rameses, the pier was provided with a more . ample base, and 
covered with hieroglyphs and figures. It received a capital at 
the same time, and became worthy of playing its part in a richly- 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

decorated building like the great- temple at Karnak, from which 
our Fig. 68 is taken. The same may be said of the hathoric 
pier. The example shown in Fig. 69 is taken from the speos of 


■Hathor at Ipsamboul. The lower part of the shaft is covered 
with inscriptions above which appears a mask of Hathor. 

The form of pier called osiride is still more elaborate and 
decorative. These piers consist of two parts ; a quadrangular 
shaft covered with inscriptions, and a colossal statue of the king 

The Egyptian Orders. 

who was the constructor of the building in which they are found, 
endowed with the head-dress and other attributes of Osiris. The 
motive was a favourite one with the princes of the nineteenth 
dynasty, and it is continuously repeated both in the great temples 
of the left bank at Thebes and in the rock-cut temples of Nubia. 
Our illustration is taken from an osiride pier in the second court 
of Medinet-Abou. The word caryatid cannot strictly be applied 

^^•^ — s — s — i — \ — s — v» 

Fib. 70. — Ouride jnllar. 

to these piers, because the statues do not help to support the mass 
above, they are merely affixed to the pier which actually performs 
that office. 

The Ethiopian architects borrowed the motive of these osiride 
pillars. They introduced into colonnaded buildings, copied from 
those of_ the Rameses, some colossal figures in which, the 
Typhon of the Greeks has sometimes been recognized. They 
probably represent the god Set. They, too, are only applied to 

94 A History of Art in Ancient Egvit. 

the supports. There is but one instance in the whole of Egyptian 
architecture of the human figure being frankly employed as a 
support, namely, in the case of those brackets or balconies which 
overhang the courts of the Royal Pavilion at Medlnet-Abou 
(Fig. lo). But even here the support is more apparent than real, 
for the slabs between which the figures are crouched are upheld 
by the wall at their backs. In this there is nothing that can 
be compared to the work done by the dignified virgins of the 
Erectheum or the muscular giants of Agrigentum, in upholding 
the massive architraves confided to their 

A last and curious variety of pier is 
found in the granite chambers of the 
Great Temple at Karnak. Upon two of 
their faces are carved groups of three tall 
stems surmounted by flowers. Upon 
one face these flowers are shaped like 
inverted bells {see Fig. 71), on the other 
they resemble the curling petals of the 
lily. Flower and stem are painted with 
colours which make them stand out 
from the red of the polished granite. 
These piers are two in number, and the 
faces which are without the decoration 
described are covered with finely exe- 
cuted sculptures in intaglio.^ 

These piers are 29 feet high, " Their 
height, as well as their situation, seems 
to indicate that they never bore any archi- 
trave. They were once, however, crowned 
by some royal symbol ; probably by bronze hawks, which may have 
been ornamented with enamel. There are many representations of 
such arrangements in the bas-reliefs at Karnak." ^ Supposing this 
hypothesis to be well founded, these piers had something in 
common with a stele; had their height been less they might have 
been called pedestals; had their shape been less uncom- 
promisingly rectangular, they might have been called obelisks. 

' See pRisSE, Hisloire de I' Art Agxpiit't, pp. 359, 360. 
' Ibid. 

The Egyptian Orders. 95 

Like the steles they are self-contained and independent of their 

We see, then, that as time went on the Egyptian architects have 
transformed the old, plain, rectangular pier — by giving it capital and 
base, by adorning it with painted and sculpture^ decorations — until 
it became fit to take its place in the most ornate architectural 
composition. We have yet to follow the same constructive 
member in a further series of modifications which ended by 
making it indistinguishable from the column proper. 

In order thoroughly to understand all these intermediary types 
we must return to the rock-cut tombs, in which the ceilings were 
upheld by piers left standing when the excavation was made. 
The desire to get as much light as possible past these piers led to 
their angles being struck off in the first instance, and thus a 
quadrangular pier became an octagonal prism (Fig. 72), and was 
connected with the soil by a large, flat, disk-shaped base. 

By repeating the same process and cutting off the eight angles 
of this prism, a sixteen-sided shaft was obtained, examples of 
which are to be found at Beni- Hassan in the same tomb as the 
octagonal column (Fig. 73). 

" The practical difficulty of cutting these sixteen faces with 
precision and of equalizing the angles at which they met each 
other, added to the natural desire to make the division into 
sixteen planes clearly visible, and to give more animation to the 
play of light and shade, inspired the Egyptian architects with the 
happy notion of transforming the obtuse angles into salient ridges 
by hollowing out the spaces between them." ^ The highest part, 
however, of these pillars remained quadrangular, thus preserving 
a reminiscence of the original type, and supplying a connecting 

^ At Dayr-el-Bahari there are some pillars of the same shape but engaged in 
the wall. They support groups — carved in stone and painted — comprising a hawk, 
a vulture, cynocephali, and so on. They are in the passage which leads to the 
north-western speos. Their total height, inclusive of the animals which surmount 
them, is nearly 18 feet, of which the groups make up nearly a third. The lower 
part is ornamented by mouldings in the shape of panels. These pilasters should 
be more carefully studied and reproduced if they still exist : the sketches from which 
we have described them were made some fifteen years ago. In that monument 
of Egyptian sculpture which is, perhaps, the oldest of all, namely, the bas-relief 
engraved by Seneferu upon the rocks of Wadi-Maghara, a hawk crowned with the 
pschent stands before the conqueror upon a quadrangular pier which has panels 
marked upon it in the same fashion as at Dayr-el-Bahari. 

* Ebers, ^gypten^ vol. ii., p. 184. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt., 

link between the shaft and the architrave which almost exactly 
corresponds to the Greek adacits. This quadrangular member 
was advantageous in two ways ; it prevented any incoherence 
between the diameter of the shaft and the depth of the architrave, 
and it supplied an unchanging element to the composition.' The 
persistence of this square abacus helps to call our attention to the 
continual changes undergone by the shaft which it surmounts. 
The slight inclination of the sides gives to the latter the effect of 
a cone, and the contrast between its almost circular top and the 


Fig. 73. — Octagonal pillai ; Beni-Has 

r. 73. — Sixteen-sided pillar ; fluted. 

right-angles of the abacus helps us to remember that the square 
pier was its immediate progenitor. 
V The conical form of the pillars at Beni-Hassan, their want of a 
well-marked base, their sixteen flutes, the square abacus inter- 
posed between their shafts and the architrave, made, when taken 
together, a great impression upon the mind of ChampolHon. He 
thought that in them he had found a first sketch for the oldest of 
the Greek orders, and that the type brought to perfection by the 
builders of Corinth and PEestum had its origin in the tombs of 

' Chipi ez, Histoirt mligue dis Origines et dt la Formation dis Ordres Grecquei, p. 44. 

The Egyptian Orders. 97 

Beni- Hassan ; he accordingly proposed to call their columns 

Here we shall not attempt to discuss ChampoUion^s theory. It 
would be impossible to do sp with advantage without having 
previously studied the doric column itself, and pointed out how 
little these resemblances amount to. The doric column had no 
base; the diminution of its diameter was much more rapid; its 
capital, which comprised an echinus as well as an abacus, was very 
different in importance from the little tablet which we find at Beni- 
Hassan. The general proportions of the Greek and Egyptian 
orders are, however, almost identical ; the shafts are fluted in each 
instance, and they both have the same air of simplicity and 
imposing gravity. "3 

But it is futile to insist upon any such comparison. The 
polygonal column had long been disused when the Greeks first 
penetrated into the Nile valley and had an opportunity of 
imitating the works of the Egyptians. It was in use in the 
time of the Middle Empire, during the eleventh and twelfth 
dynasties. The earlier princes of the Second Theban Empire 
introduced it into their stone buildings, but there are no examples 
which we can affirm to be later than the eighteenth dynasty. 
The Rameses and their successors preferred forms less bold 
and severe ; their columns were true columns with swelling 
entasis and rich and varied capitals. It is no doubt true that 
towards the seventh century the Greeks could find the polygonal 
column which we have described in many an ancient monument. 
But those early visitors were not archaeologists. Astonished and 
dazzled by the pompous buildings of a Psemethek or an Amasis, 
they were not likely to waste their attention upon an abandoned 
and obsolete type. Their admiration would be reserved for the 
great edifices of the nineteenth and later dynasties, for such 
creations as Medinet-Abou, the Ramesseum, and the Great Hall 
at Kamak; creations which had their, equals in those cities 
of the Delta which were visited by Herodotus and Hecataeus. 
If Greek art had borrowed from the Egypt of that day it would 
have transferred to its own home not the simple lines of the 
porticos at Beni-Hassan, but something ornate and complex, like 
the order of the small temple of Nectanebo at Philae. 

These few words had to be given, in passing, to an hypothesis 
which has found much favour since the days of ChampoUion, but 

VOL. II. o 

98 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

we hasten to resume our methodical analysis of the Egyptian 
orders, and to class them by the varieties of their proportions 
and by the ever-increasing complication of their ornaments. 

At Beni-Hassan and elsewhere we find pillars with two or four 
flat vertical bands dividing their flutes into as many groups. 
These bands are covered with incised inscriptions. Sometimes, 
as at Kalabch^ {Fig. 74), there are four flat bands inclosing five 
flutes between each pair. Such an arrangement accentuates the 
difference between these so-called proto-doric pillars and the 
Greek doric column. They take away from the proper character 
of the pillar, the inscribed tablet becomes the most important 
member of the composition, and the shaft to which it is attached 

seems to have been made for its display. In the Greek order, on 
the other hand, we always find the structural requirements brought 
into absolute harmony with those of the aesthetic sentiment ; every 
line of every detail is necessary both to builder and artist. 

A later variety of this type is found in a pillar in which the 
vertical band is interrupted to make room for a mask of Hathor, 
which is placed immediately below the abacus (Fig. 75). We 
find it in a temple situated eastwards of El-Kab, dating, according 
to Lepsius, from the eighteenth dynasty. 

After the eleventh dynasty we find monolithic rock-cut supports 
at Beni-Hassan, which, although side by side with true polygonal 
piers, are columns in the strictest sense of the word ; that is to say, 

The Egyptian Orders. 


their vertical section offers curvilinear forms, and they are pro- 
vided with capitals. Singularly enough, they are so far from 
being a development from the pier that they do not even distantly 
resemble it. They may fairly be compared, however, with a type of 
column which we have already noticed in speaking of the ephemeral 
wooden or metal architecture whose forms have been preserved 
for us in the bas-reliefs of the Ancient Empire (see Fig. 54).^ 

The shaft is formed of four bold vertical ribs, cruciform in plan, 
and bound together at the top by narrow fillets. The re-entering 
angles between the ribs are deep. The horizontal section of the 
capital is similar to that of the shaft, from which it seems to burst ; 



Fig. 76. — Column from Beni-Iiassan ; from Lepsius. 

it then gradually tapers to the top, where it meets the usual 
quadrangular abacus (Fig. 76). 

If four stems of lotus, each ending in an unopened bud, be tied 
together immediately beneath the point where the stem joins the 
bud, something bearing a rude resemblance to this column will be 
formed, and to the imitation of such a faggot its origin has often 

^ Mariette has shown this clearly in his Voyage dans la Haute-igypte (p. 52). 
" This light column or shaft was not abandoned, it reappeared in stone .... it 
reappeared to give birth to the great faggot-shaped column which rivalled the pier in 
size, solidity, and weight. This column, with its capital in the shape of a lotus-bud 
or flower, is seen in its full development at Kamak, at Luxor, and in the first 
temple of the New Empire." 

loo A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

been attributed. The fillets which surround the shaft at its 
summit represent the cord wound several times round the stalks, 
the reeds which fill up the upper parts of the hollows between 
the ribs are meant for the ends of the knots. 

Not far from the remains of the labyrinth some columns formed 
upon a similar principle have been discovered. Their shafts are 
composed of eight vertical ribs, which are triangular on plan like 
stalks of papyrus. The lower part of the shaft has a bold swell. 
It springs from a corona of leaves and tapers as it rises. The 
stalks are tied at the top with from three to five bands, the ends 
hanging down between the ribs. The buds which form the capital 
are also surrounded with leaves at their base. 

The number of its parts and their complicated arrangement, the 
leaves painted upon it and its general proportions, show that this 
column was the product of an art much more advanced than that 
of Beni- Hassan. Between the first and second Theban empires 
the form of the column underwent a development similar to that 
which we have already described in the case of the pier. Its 
surface became less incoherently irregular; its horizontal section 
betrayed a constantly increasing tendency towards a circular form. 
Moreover, like the edifices of which it formed a part, as it increased 
in size it turned its back upon its monolithic origin and became 
a carefully constructed succession of horizontal courses. 

Thus we arrive, under the New Empire, at a column of which 
we find several varieties in the buildings at Thebes. Its pro- 
portions are various, and so are the methods in which it is capped 
and decorated. The variant which preserves most resemblance to 
the column from Beni-Hassan is found at Luxor (Fig. yy). It is 
faggot-shaped like its prototype, but the natural origin of its forms 
is much less clearly marked. The capital recalls a bunch of lotus- 
buds in a very slight degree, the stems are not frankly detached 
one from another and the ligatures are repeated in unmeaning 
fashion. We feel that with the passage of time the original 
combination has lost its early significance. 

The change becomes still more striking when we turn to another 
column from the New Empire, from Medinet-Abou (Fig. 78). 
The lotiform type may still be recognised, but the shaft is ' no 
longer faggot-shaped, except in a rudimentary fashion and over a 
very small part of its surface. There is a ligature just below the 

* Ebers, rj^gypte^ p. 185. 

The Egyptian Orders. 

capital, but the latter is encircled by a smooth band and is 
decorated _with the uraeus ; the bottom of the slightly tapering 
shaft springs from an encircling band of painted leaves. 

Side by side with the type which we have just described we find 
another to which the hollow outward curve of the capital has 
given the name of campaniform. Nothing like it is to be found 
at Beni-Hassan, and no example, in stone, is extant from an earlier 

time than that of the Second Theban Empire. ^ The base is small. 
. The flutes or separate stems have disappeared. The shaft is 
either smooth or decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions. The 
ligatures under the capital are still introduced, The springing 
' We shall call attention, however, to a hypogeum at Gizeh, which is numbered 
8i in Lepsius's map of that tomb-field. As at Beni-Hassan the chamber is preceded 
by a portico. In Lepsius's drawing (voL i. pi. 27, fig. i), the columns of this portico 
are campaniform. 

102 A History of Art in Anciekt Egypt. 

of the capital is decorated with leaves and flowers painted in 
brilhant colours. A cubic abacus or die of stone stands upon the 
circular surface of the capital and transmits the resisting power 
of the column to the architrave. 

The proportions and general appearance of the shaft vary 
greatly. In the first court at Medinet-Abou it is short and stumpy, 
and the capital alone has received a few ornaments in relief. 

In the Great Hall at Karnak, 
on the other -hand, it is taller, 
more graceful in form and richer 
in decoration than in any other 
Egyptian building (Fig. 80). To 
give an idea of the colossal 
dimensions of these columns we 
need only repeat the often-made 
assertion that a hundred men can 
sit upon the upper surface of their 
capitals, which measure no less 
than 70 feet in circumference. 

The shafts of both these 
columns diminish gradually from 
base to summit. The diminution 
is so slight that it is hardly 
perceptible by the eye. In the 
hypostyle hall of the Ramesseum 
(Fig. 81), on the other hand, 
it tapers rapidly. The columns 

I,..., I i^^ ^ I; .^„ in the central aisle come, by 

their proportions, midway between 
the thick-set type of Medinet- 
Abou and the lofty shafts of 
Karnak. Their lower parts have the bulbous form which we 
have already noticed in speaking of the lotiform type of column. 
The painted and sculptured ornament, although not so rich as 
that of Karnak, covers about one half of the whole surface. 

We may cite, as showing interesting variations upon the 
campaniform type, the column of Soleb, dating from the eighteenth 
dynasty (Fig. 82), and that of Thothmes, from Karnak 
(Fig. 83). The capital of tlie former seems to have been 
suggested by a bunch of palm leaves arranged about a central 

TiiE EnvPTiAN Orders. 103 

post. In curving outwards the 
extremity of each leaf forms a 
lobe, which is shown in the 
plan (Fig. 82). The architect 
here made free use of the forms 
occurring in nature, but in the 

of ihe Ramesseum ; from h 

Ptolemaic temples we find the 
palm tree copied in a far more 
literal fashion. There are 
capitals at Esneh composed 
of palm branches grouped in 

I04 A History of Art in Ancient Egvpt. 

stages about the central shaft and copied leaf for leaf. Some- 
times, as at Phila;, we even find date clusters mingled with the 

The other capital to which we have alluded as occurring in 
the work of Thothmes at Karnak, is shaped like a suspended 
bell. The upper part of the shaft swells slightly so as to coincide 
with the outer rim of the bell ; it is encircled with fillets below 
which is cut a vertical band of hieroglyphs. The capital is 
decorated with leaves growing downwards and on the whole it 
may be taken as showing the companiform type revd^rsed. 


In this comparison between the different forms which were 
successively given to the Egyptian column, we might, if we 
had chosen, have included other varieties ; and yet we do not 
think we have omitted any that are of importance. We have 
figured them to one scale so that their relative proportions can 
be at once grasped, and we have now to analyse the methods 
in which they were allied with their supports and superstructures. 
For that purpose we shall have to reproduce several of the 

The Egyptian Orders. 105 

piers and columns already mentioned and figured, on a larger 
scale and in perspective instead of elevation. We count upon 
these reproductions to show the individual characteristics of 
the Egyptian orders and the origin of their peculiar physiognomy. 

When the architects of the New Empire made use of the 
square pier without giving it either capital or base, they covered 
it with bas-reliefs and inscriptions. Thus adorned it could be 
used without incongruity in rich and elaborate compositions. 
The truth of this statement may be seen from the adjoining 
reproduction of an angle from the peristyle of the Elephantine 
temple (Fig. 84).^ 

The firm and simple lines of the pier contrast well with the 
modest projection of the stylobate and the bolder profile of the 
cornice, and help, with the double base, to give dignity and 
solidity to the encircling portico. 

When the pier is honoured with a capital, that capital does not 
in the least resemble those of the column proper. Being, in its 
essence, a vertical section of wall, it is treated as such, and given 
for crown a capital composed exactly in the same fashion as the 
cornice which crowns every Egyptian wall. Between this quasi- 
capital and the architrave a low abacus is introduced (Fig. 85). 

The figure on page 109, represents one of the seven osiride 
piers in the first court of the temple at Medinet-Abou. The 
pier at the back of the statue is slightly wider than the base 
upon which the latter stands. At each side of the Pharaoh one 
of his children stands sculptured in very high relief, almost in the 
round. Without in any way compromising the dignity of the 
colossus the .sculptor has bent his head slightly backwards so 
as to obtain a natural support for his lofty and complicated 
head-dress. Thanks to this artifice the head-dress in question 
is securely allied to the massive pier behind it without the 
intervention of any unsightly thicknesses of stone, and the ex- 
pression of the whole glypto-architectural group is rendered more 
forcible and more suggestive of that strength in repose which is 
the characteristic of Egyptian architecture.* 

^ See also p. 396, Vol. I., and Fig. 230. 

' There is no pier at Medinet-Abou in so perfect a condition as that figured 
by us. In order to complete our restoration, for so it is, we had the use of drawings 
which had been made long ago and of excellent photographs, and by combining one 
figure with another we obtained all the details necessary. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The next illus- 
tration (Fig. 87) 
shows the upper 
part of a poly- 
gonal column 
with a hathoric 
capital of the 
oldest and most 
simple form. 
In later ages, 
during the Sait 
dynasties, the 
mask of the god- 
dess was re- 
peated upon the 
four sides of the 
column, and 
sometimes super- 
imposed upon a 
bell-shaped cap- 
ital. In this in- 
stance, where 
there is but one 
mask, the vertical 
band of hiero- 
glyphs below ■ it 
serves to show 
that the face 
where it occurs 
is the principal 

This capital is 
one of the most 
singular achieve- 
ments of Egyp- 
tian art. Why, 
out of all the 
multitude of 

Egyptian gods 
and goddesses, 

The Egyptian Orders. 107 

was Halhor alone selected for such a distinction ? What is the 
meaning of the small naos or shrine upon her head ? The 
explanation is still uncertain. Perhaps it is to be found in 
the simple fact that the word Hathor means the dwelling of Horus. 
This capital is found in the tombs as well as in the temples. We 
reproduce (Fig. 88) a hathoric pier from the tomb of a certain 
Nefer-Hotep who lived under the eighteenth dynasty ; it is now 
in the museum at Boulak. The anterior face displays the mask 
of Hathor over the symbol tet, which has been interpreted to 
mean steadfastness or stability?- A rich collar hangs down upon 
her breast. 

F[G. S5. — Pier with capital, Kamak ; From the elevation of Prisse. 

On a column in the speos of Kalabch^ we find the band of 
hieroglyphs repeated upon four faces (FJg. 8g). The flutes of 
this column are unusually numerous and closely spaced, and it 
therefore approaches the true cylindrical form. The abacus, 
however, which overhangs the shaft at every point, still serves to 
recall the monolithic pier and the tablet which was reserved at 
its summit when its angles were first struck off in order to give 
freer passage to- the light. 

The faggot-shaped column (Fig. 90) is not to be explained 

by any theory of development from the pier. We have 

reproduced its upper and lower extremities, together with the 

entablature and flat roof which it supports. The extreme 

' See PiERRET, DUtionnaire i' Archeolo^e Egyplienne. 

io8 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

nakedness of the base given by the Egyptians to their columns 
is a curious feature. Shaft and capital may be carved into varipus 
shapes and adorned with the most brilliant colours, but the base 
is always perfectly bare and simple. Between one column and 
another there is no difference in this respect except in size. The 
only attempt at ornamentation ever found is a narrow band of 
hieroglyphs engraved, as at the Ramesseum, round its circum- 
ference (Fig, 91). On the other hand, the lower part of the 
shaft is always richly decorated. The principal element in this 
decoration is the circlet of leaves which are found both in the 
faggot-shaped columns and in those whose shafts are smooth. In 
the latter, however, the ornament is carried farther than in the 
former. Slender shoots are introduced between the larger leaves, 
which mount up the shaft and burst into leaf at the top. Above 
these, again, come the royal ovals, surmounted by the solar disk 
between two uraeus serpents. 

In the upper part of the column of Thothmes (Fig. 90), the 
pendants which fill the re-entering angles and the four rings at 
the top of the shaft, the pointed leaves and other ornaments of 
the capital, are rendered conspicuous by being painted in colours, 
yellow and blue, which will be found reproduced in Prisse's plate. 
We should have liked to give one of these columns with all its 
coloured decorations, but we hesitated to do so because we were not 
satisfied with the accuracy as to tone and tint of those coloured 
plates which had been introduced into previous works. And we 
wished to give no coloured reproductions except those made 
expressly from the monuments themselves, as in the case of the 
tomb from the Ancient Empire whose painted decorations are 
produced in plates xiii. and xiv. 

It will be observed that in this case the abacus does not extend 
beyond the architrave, as it does in the Doric order of the Greeks. 

We have given a column from the central aisle of the Great 
Hall at Karnak, as affording a good type of the bell-shaped 
capital (Fig. 80). We also give an example, with slight varia- 
tions, from the Ramesseum (Fig. 92). It comes from the 
principal order in the hypostyle hall, and shows Egyptian archi- 
tecture perhaps at its best. The profile of the capital combines 
grace with firmness of outline in the most happy manner. By 
dint of closely examining and comparing many reproductions we 
have succeeded, as we believe, in giving a more exact rendering 


*■— Ojiride pie, . y,^. 

The Egyptian Orders. 

of its curves than any of our predecessors. Leaves and flowers 
are most happily arranged, and are painted also with an exquisite 
finish not to be found elsewhere. The decoration as a whole is 
of extraordinary richness. The royal ovals, with the disk of the 
sun and the urKUS, encircle the shaft ; vultures with outspread 

Fig. Si. — Hatboric pier fiom a 
tomb. BouJak. 

wings cover the ceiling, and the architrave is carved on its visible 
sides, with long rows of hieroglyphs.^ 

' The slabs of whicli the roof is formed are grooved on their upper surfaces at 
their lines of junction (see Fig. 92),acurious feature which recurs in other Egyptian 
buildings, but has never been satisfaclorily explained. 

A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Of the derived and secondary forms of the campaniform capital 
there are but two upon which we need here insist. The first is 
that which is exemplified by the columns of a temple built by 
Seti I. at Sesebi, in Nubia (Fig. 93). It is very like the one at 
Soleb already figured (Fig. 82). The motive is the same, but 
the Sesebi example shows it in a more advanced stage of develop- 
ment. Its forms are fuller and more expressive, and the palm 
branches from which the idea is derived are more frankly incor- 
porated in the design. It is not an exact copy from nature, as at 
Esneh, but a good use has been made of the fundamental vegetable 

Fig. 89. — Column M Kalabche ; from the ele^on of Prisse. 

The other variation upon the same theme is a much later one ; 
it is to be found in the temple built by Nectanebo on the island of 
Philse (Fig. 94). The simplicity of the Sesebi and Soleb capitals 
has vanished ; the whole composition is imbued with the love for 
complex form which distinguished the Sait epoch. The swelling 
base of the column seems to spring from a bouquet of triangular 
leaves. The anterior face of the column is ornamented with a 
band of hieroglyphs ; its upper part is encircled by five smooth 
rings, above which, again, it is fluted. According to Prisse, who 
alone gives particulars as to this little building, some of the capi- 
tals have no ornament beyond their finely-chiselled palm-leaves ; 
others have half-opened lotus-flowers between each pair of leaves. 
Finally, the square die or abacus which supports the architrave 

The Egyptian Orders. 

is much higher and more important than in the columns hitherto 
described, and it bears a mask of Hathor surmounted by a naos 
upon each of its four sides. This unusual height of abacus, the 
superposition of the hathoric capital upon the bell-shaped one, and 
the repetition of the mask of Hathor upon all four sides, are 
the premonitory signs of the Ptolemaic style. 

Fig. 91. — Base of a coIuoid ; fioDi the great hall of (he Ramesseum, central avenue. 

The capital from the Ambulatory of Thothmes, at Thebes, 
presents a type both rare and original {Fig. 95). Between our 
illustration and that of Lepsius there is a difference which is not 
without importance.^ According to the German savants, the 
abacus is inscribed within the upper circumference of the bell ; 
but if we may believe a sketch made by an architect upon the 
spot, the truth is that the upper circumference of the capital is 
' Lepsius, Dmktnaler, part i. pi. 81, 

ii6 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

contained within the four sides of the abacus, which it touches at 
their centres The four angles of the abacus, therefore, stand out 
well beyond the upper part of the capital, uniting it properly to 
the architrave, and giving a satisfactory appearance of solidity to 
the whole. 

This peculiar form of capital has generally been referred to the 
individual caprice of some architect, anxious, above all things, to 
invent something new.^ But the same form is to be found in the 
architectural shapes preserved by the paintings of the ancient 
empire (Fig. 59) which seems fatal to this explanation. It is 
probable that if we possessed all the work of the Egyptian 
architects we should find that the type was by no means confined 
to Karnak. It was, however, far less beautiful in its lines than 
the ordinary shape, and though ancient enough, never became 

The Egyptians were not always content with the paint-brush 

and chisel for the decoration of their capitals, they occasionally 

made use of metal also. This has been proved by a discovery 

made at Luxor in the presence of M. Brugsch, who describes it 

in these terms : *' The work of clearing the temple began with 

the part constructed by Amenophis III. and gave some very 

unexpected results. The capitals of the columns were overlaid 

with copper plates, to which the contour of the stone beneath 

had been given by the hammer. They had afterwards been 

painted. Large pieces of these plates were found still hanging 

to the capitals, while other pieces lay among the surrounding 

debris. Thus a new fact in the history of Egyptian art has been 

established, namely, that stonework was sometimes covered with 

This process was not generally, nor even frequently, employed, 
as we may judge by the vast number of capitals painted in the most 
brilliant colours, which remain. If the surface of the stone was 
to be covered up such care would not have been taken to beautify 
it. The fact that the process was used at all is, however, curious ; 

1 Wilkinson, vol L p. 40. In the Description de rigypte {Antiquitks^ vol. ii. 
p. 474), we find this shape accounted for by opposition of two lotus-flowers, one 
above another. Such an explanation could only be offered by one who had a theory 
to serve. 

2 Extract from a letter of.M. Brugsch, published by Hittorf in the Athenaum 
Franfais, 1854, p. 153. 

Fic. 92. — BeU-stiaped capital, from Ihe hjpostyle hall ol the Ramesseum. From the chief order- 

TriE EavprrAN Orders. 

it seems to be a survival from the ancient wooden architecture in 
which metal was commonly used. 

The architrave which was employed with all these varieties of 
capital was sometimes of a kind which deserves to be noticed 
(Fig. 102). Whenever the dimensions of the column were suffi- 
ciently great the stone beams which met upon the die or abacus 
had oblique joints. The motive of the architect in making use of 
such a junction is obvious enough ; it was calculated to afford 

Tin. 93, — Capital «t Sewbi. From the Fig. 94. — Capital from the temple of 

elevation of Lepsitls, Dtnkmtllir, pari Neclanebo, at Phlla. From llie 

i., pi. 119. elevation of Prisse. 

greater solidity, and it was the most convenient way in which lateral 
architraves could be united with those disposed longitudinally. 
Any other arrangement would have involved a sacrifice of space 
and would have left a certain part of the. abacus doing nothing. 

We have now brought our analysis of the principal types of 
pier and column used by the Egj'ptians to an end. They suggest, 
. however, certain general reflections to which we must next 

I20 A HisTORV OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

endeavour to give expression. In spite of the great apparent 
diversity of their forms, we are enabled to perceive that the 
Egyptian orders obeyed an unchanging law of development, 
and that certain characteristic features persistently reappear 
through all their transformations. We must attempt to define 
these laws and characteristics, as, otherwise, we shall fail to make 
the originality of Eyptian art appreciated, we shall be unable to 
classify its successes, or to mark with accuracy the limits which it 
failed to pass. 

Between the square pier with neither base nor capital of the 
early Empire and the graceful columns of the Ramesseum there 
is a difference which marks ages of progress. The general form of 
the support became gradually more complex and more refined 
As occurred elsewhere, it was divided into parts, each of which had 
its proper duty and its proper name. The base was distinguished 
from the shaft, and the shaft from the capital. Each of these parts 
was shaped by the sculptor and clothed in colour by the painter. 
For long centuries the architect never relaxed his efforts to perfect 
his art. The simple and sturdy prismatic column gave way to the. 

The Egyptian Orders. 121 

elaborate forms which exist in the great temples of the Ramessids ; 
the latter in turn lost their power to satisfy and new motives 
were sought for in the combination of all those which had gone 
before. In the series of Egyptian types the capital of Nectanebo 
would therefore occupy a place corresponding to that of the 
composite capital in the series of Graico-Roman orders. 

The general movement of art in Egypt may therefore be com- 
pared to that of art in Greece and Italy; and yet there is a 
difference. From the rise of Greek architecture until its decay, 
the proportions of its vertical members underwent a continual, but 
consistent y modification of their proportions. Century after century 
the figure in which their height was expressed proportionately 
with their bulk, became greater. In the height of the Doric 
columns of the old temple at Corinth there are fewer diameters 
than in those of the Parthenon, and in those of the Parthenon 
there are fewer than in the doric shafts of Rome. This tendency 
explains the neglect which befel this order about the fourth century 
before our era. In the sumptuous buildings of Asia Minor and 
Syria and of the " Lower Period " in Egypt, it was replaced by the 
graceful and slender outlines of the Ionic order. A similar explana- 
tion may be given of the favour in which the Corinthian order 
was held throughout the Roman world. 

Such a development is not to be found in Egypt. The forms 
of Egyptian architecture did not become less substantial with the 
passage of the centuries. It is possible that familiarity with light 
structures of wood and metal had early created a taste for slender 
supports. The polygonal and faggot-shaped columns of Beni- 
Hassan are no thicker than those of far later times. A com- 
parison of the columns at Thebes points to the same conclusion. 
The shortest and most thick-set in its proportions of them all 
(Fig. 78) is at Medinet-Abou, and is about two centuries later 
than those of the same order which decorate the second court at 
Luxor (Fig. 77). Its heaviness is even more apparent when we 
compare it with the great columns of a different order, at Karnak 
(Fig. 80), and the Ramesseum (Fig. 81), which precede it by 
at least a century. 

The progress of Egyptian art was, then, less continuous and 
less regular than that of classic art. It had moments of rest, of 
exhaustion, even of retrogression. It was not governed by 
internal logical principles so severe as those of the Greeks. 


122 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The manner in which the capital is allied to the shaft below, and 
the architrave above shows changes of the same kind. 

The first duty of the capital is to oppose a firm and individual 
contour to the monotony of the shaft. The constructor has to 
determine a point in the length of the latter where it shall cease 
to be, where its gradual diminution in section, a diminution 
which could not be prolonged to the architrave without com- 
promising the safety of the building, shall be arrested. The 
natural office of the capital would seem to be to call attention 
to this point. The architect, therefore, gives it a diameter greater 
than that of the shaft at the point where they meet. This salience 
restores to the column, the material which it has lost ; it completes 
it, and determines its proportion, so that it is no longer capable of 
either increase or diminution. 

Again, when the salience is but the preparation for a greater 
development above, it seems to add to the solidity of the edifice 
by receiving the architrave on a far larger surface than the shaft 
could offer. The support seems to enlarge itself, the better to 
embrace the entablature. 

The two requirements which the capital has to fulfil may, then, 
be thus summarized : in the first place, it has to mark the point 
where the upward movement of the lines comes to an end ; and, 
secondly, it has to make, or to seem to make, the column better 
fitted to play its part as a support. Its functions are dual in 
principle ; it has to satisfy the aesthetic desires of the eye, and the 
constructive requirements of the material. The latter office may 
be more apparent than real, but, in architecture, what seems to be 
necessary is so. 

The Greek capital, in all its forms, thoroughly fulfils these 
double conditions, while that of Egypt satisfies them in a very 
imperfect manner. Let us take the ancient polygonal column 
as an example. The feeble tablet which crowns its shaft neither 
opposes itself frankly to the upright lines below it, nor, in the 
absence of an echinus, is it happily allied with the shaft. It 
gives, however, a greater appearance of constructive repose to 
the architrave than the latter would have without it. 

In the column which terminates in a lotus-bud the capital is of 
more importance, but the contrast between it and the shaft is often 
very slightly marked. At Luxor and Karnak the smooth capital 
seems to be nothing more than an accident, a gentle swelling in 

The Egyptian Orders. 123 

the upper part of the cone ; besides which it really plays no part 
in the construction, as the surface of the abacus above it is no 
greater than a horizontal section through the highest and most 
slender part of the shaft. 

Of all the Egyptian capitals, that which seems the happiest in 
conception is the campaniform. This capital, far from being 
folded back upon itself, throws out a fine and bold curve beyond 
the shaft. But we are surprised and even distressed to find that 
the surface thus obtained is not employed for the support of the 
architrave, which is carried by a comparatively small cubic abacus, 

KiG. 97. — The Nymphaea Nelumbo ; from the Detcrifl/im drr&gypit; Nitl. NalurtNt, pi. 6i, 

which rests upon the centre of the capital. At Karnak and 
Medinet-Abou this abacus is not so absurdly high as it afterwards 
became in the Ptolemaic period,^ but yet its effect is singular rather 
than pleasant. We feel inclined to wonder why this fine calyx of 
stone should have been constructed if its borders were to remain 
idle. It is like a phrase commenced but never finished. Without 
this fault the composition, of which it forms a part, would be worthy 
both in proportion and in decoration, of being placed side by side 
with the most perfect of the Greek columns. 

' A good idea of this can be gained from the building known as Pharaoh's bed, at 
Philffi. It is shown on the right of our sketch at p. 431, Vol. I. 

124 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The last or, it may be, the first question, which is asked in con- 
nection with the form of column employed by any particular race, 
has to do with its origin. We have preferred to make it the last 
question, because we thought that the analysis of form which we 
have attempted to set forth would help us to an answer. There 
are many difficulties in the matter, but after the facts to which we 
have called attention, it will not be denied that the forms of wooden 
construction, which were the first to be developed in Egypt, had 
a great effect upon work in stone. 

Ever since men began to interest themselves in Egyptian art, 
this has found an important place in their speculations. In the 
two forms which alternate with one another at Thebes, many have 
seen faithful transcriptions of two plants which filled a large space 
in Egyptian civilization by their decorative qualities and the 
practical services which they rendered ; we mean, of course, the 
lotus and the papyrus. 

There were in Egypt many species belonging to the family of 
the NymphcB€ue€B, a family which is represented in our northern 
climates by the yellow and white nenuphars or water-lilies. 
Besides these Egypt possessed, and still possesses, the white lotus 
ij^ymphaa lotus of Linnseus), and the blue lotus {Nympfuea ccerulea 
of Savigny) ; but the true Egyptian lotus, the red lotus (the 
NymphcBa nelumbo of Linnaeus, the Nelumbium spectosum of Wild) 
exists no longer in a wild state, either in Egypt or any other 
known part of Africa (Fig, 97). The accurate descriptions 
given by the ancient writers have enabled botanists, however, to 
recognize it among the flora of India, It is at least one third 
larger than our common water-lily, from which it differs also in the 
behaviour of its leaves and of the stems which bear the flowers. 
These do not float on the surface of the water but rise above it to a 
height of from twelve to fifteen inches.^ The flower, which stands 
higher than the leaves, is borne upon a stalk which instead of being 
soft and pliant like that of the water-lily has the firmness and 
consistency of wood. It has an agreeable smell like that of anise. 
In the bas-reliefs the ancient Egyptians are often seen holding it 
to their nostrils. The fruit, which is shaped like the rose of a 
watering-pot, contains seeds as large as the stone of an olive, 

* These upstanding flowers and stalks form the distinguishing characteristic of the 
Nelumbo species. 

The Egyptian Orders. 125 

These seeds, which were eaten either green or dried/ were called 
Egyptian beans by the Greek and Latin writers because they were 
consumed in such vast quantities in the Nile valley.^ The seeds 
of the other kinds of nymphaeaceae, which were smaller (Herodotus 
compares them with those of a poppy), gave, when pounded in 
a mortar, a flour of which a kind of bread was made. Even the 
root was not wasted ; according to the old historians, it had a 
sweet and agreeable taste.' 

The papyrus belongs to the family of CyperacecBy which is still 
represented in Egypt by several species, but the famous plant 
which received the early writings of mankind, the Papyrus 
antiquorum of the botanist, has also practically disappeared from 
Egypt, where it is only to be found in a few private gardens. 
The ancients made it an object of special care. It was culti- 
vated in the Sebennitic nome, its roots being grown in shallow 
water. Strabo gave a sufficiently accurate idea of its appearance 
when he described it as a ** peeled wand surmounted by a plume 
of feathers.'' * This green plume or bouquet is by no means 
without elegance (Fig. 98). According to Theophrastus the plant 
attained to a height of ten cubits, or about sixteen feet.* This 
may, however, be an exaggeration. The finest plants that I could 
find in the gardens of Alexandria did not reach ten feet. Their 
stems were as thick as a stout broom-handle and sharply triangular 
in section. 

The reed-brakes which occur so frequently in the paintings 
consist of different varieties of the papyrus (Fig. 8, Vol. I.). The uses 
to which the plant could be put were very numerous. The root 
was used for fuel and other purposes. The lower part of the stalk 
furnished a sweet and aromatic food substance, which was chewed 
either raw or boiled, for the sake of the juice.* Veils, mats, 
sandals, &c., were made from the bark ; candle and torch wicks 

^ Herodotus, ii. 92. 

' For the different species of the lotus and their characteristics see Description 
deVAgypte.^ Hist NaiurelU, vol ii. pp. 303-313 and Atlas, plates 60 and 61. — In 
the Recueil de Travaux, etc., vol. i, p. 190, there is a note by M. Victor Loret upon 
the Egyptian names for the lotus. 

• Strabo, xvii. i, 15. — Diodorus, i. 34. 

• Strabo, xvii. i, 15. 

' Strabo only speaks of ten feet, which would agree better with modern 

• Diodorus, i. 80. 

126 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

from the bark ; baskets and even boats from the stalk. ^ As for 
the processes by which the precious fabric which the Greeks 
called 131^05 was obtained they will be found fully described in 
the paper of Dureau de-la-Malle Sur le Papyrus et la Fabrication 
dti Papier} Our "word paper is derived (rom papyrus, and forms a 
slight but everlasting monument to the great services rendered to 
civilization by the inventive genius of the Egyptians. The 
importation of the papyrus, which followed the establishment of 
direct relations between Greece and Egypt in the time of the Sait 
princes,^ exercised the greatest influence upon the development of 
Greek thought. It created prose composition, and with it history, 
philosophy, and science. 

The two plants which we have mentioned were so specially 
reverenced by the Egyptians that they constituted them severally 
into the signs by which the two great divisions of the country 
were indicated in their writings. Th^ papyrus was the emblem of 
the Delta, in whose lazy waters it luxuriated, and the lotus that of 
the Thebaid.* 

Besides this testimony to their importance, the careful descrip- 
tions left by the ancient travellers in Egypt, Herodotus and 
Strabo, also show the estimation in which these two plants were 
held by the Egyptians ; the palm' alone could contest their well- 
earned supremacy. It is easy, then, to understand how the artist 
and ornamentist were led to make use of their graceful forms. We 
have already pointed out many instances of such employment, and 
we are far from underrating its importance, but we have yet to 
explain the method followed, and the kind and degree of imitation 
which the Egyptian artist allowed himself. 

The lotus especially has been found everywhere by writers 
upon Egypt.* The pointed leaves painted upon the lower parts 

^ PiERRET, Dictionnaire (TArchSologie Agyptienne, see Papyrus, Upon the different 
varieties of papyrus, see also Wilkinson, vol. iL p. 121 ; pp. 179-189 ; and Ebers, 
yEgypten, pp. 126, 127. 

■ Mtmoires de PAcademie des Inscriptions^ vol. xix. p. 140, with one plate. 

' Egger, Des Origines de la Prose dans la Litthrature Grecque, (Memoires de 
Littkrature Ancienne, xi.) 

* Maspero, Histoire Ancienne^ p. 8. 

° Description de rAgypte ; Hist Naturelle, vol. ii. p. 311. Antiquites, vol. i. 
Description genh-ale de Thhbes, p. 133 : " Who can doubt that they wished to 
imitate the lotus in its entirety ? The shaft of the column is the stem, the capital 
the flower, and, still more obviously, the lower part of the column seems to us an 
exact representation of that of the lotus and of plants in general." 

The Egyptian Orders. 


of columns have been recognized as imitations of *' those scaly 

Fig. 98. — Papyrus plant, drawn in the gardens of the Luxembourg, Paris, by 

M. Saint-EIme Gautier. 

leaves which surround the point where the stem of the lotus, the 

128 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

papyrus, and many other aquatic plants, merges in the root." 
According to this theory the ligneous stem which rises from a 
depth beneath the water of, perhaps, six feet, and carries the large 
open flower at its top, was the prototype of the Egyptian column. 
The bulbous form with which so many shafts are endowed at the 
base, would be another feature taken directly from nature. The 
leaves, properly speaking, which spread around the flower, are 
found about and below the capital, while the capital itself is nothing 
else, we are told, than the flower, sometimes fully opened, some- 
times while yet in the bud. When the shaft is smooth it represents 
a single stem, when it is grooved, it means a faggot of stems tied 
together by a cord. 

Others make similar claims for the papyrus. They refuse to 
admit that the whole of the Egyptian orders were founded upon 
the lotus. Mariette allowed that the capitals which we have called 
lotiform were copied from that plant, but he contended that the 
bell-shaped capital was freely copied from the plume of its rival. 
He proposed that this latter capital should be called papyTdform, 
and to my objections, which were founded upon the composition of 
a head of papyrus, he answered that the Egyptians neglected what 
may be called internal details, and were contented with rendering 
the outward contours. In support of his idea, he called attention 
to the fact that some of the faggot-shaped columns present 
triangular sections, like that of the papyrus stem. 

In spite of this latter fact, Mariette did not convert me to 
his opinion. The columns in which this triangular section is found 
are not crowned by an open flower. The profiles of their capitals 
resemble that of a truncated bud, a form which cannot possibly 
be obtained from the papyrus, and they seem, therefore, to 
combine characteristics taken from two different plants. His 
explanation of the campaniform capital seems still less admiss- 
able. It is impossible to allow that in the tuft of slender 
filaments gracefully yielding to the wind, which is figured on page 
127, we have the prototype of those inverted bells of stone, whose 
uninterrupted contours express so much strength and amplitude.' 
No less difficult is it to discover the first idea of those sturdy 
shafts which seem so well proportioned to the mighty architraves 
which they have to support, in the slender stalk of the famous 
water plant. The hypostyle halls may be compared to palm 
groves, to forests of pine, of oak, or of beech. In such a 

The Egyptian Orders. 129 

comparison there would be nothing surprising, but the papyrus, 
with its attenuated proportions and yielding frame, would seem to 
be, of all vegetables, the least likely to have inspired the architects 
of Karnak and Luxor. 

The lotus seems to us to have no more right than the papyrus 
to be considered the unique origin of the forms which we are 
considering. All those resemblances, of which so much has been 
made, sink to very little when they are closely examined. It re- 
quires more than good will to recognize the formless /o/zo/es which 
cluster round the base of the stalk in those large and well-shaped 
triangular leaves with parallel ribs, which decorate the bases of 
Egyptian columns. Moreover, these leaves reappear in other 
places, such as capitals, in which, if this explanation of their 
origin is to be accepted, they could have no place. They 
frequently occur, also, at the foot of a wall. As for the true 
circular leaf of the lotus, it is not to be found, except, perhaps in a 
few Ptolemaic capitals. Its stem, concealed almost entirely by the 
muddy water, is very slender, and is hardly more suggestive than 
that of the papyrus of a massive stone column. The bulbous 
form of the lower part of the shaft would be a constant form if it 
were an imitation of nature, whereas it is, in fact, exceptional. 
With the capitals, however, it is different. Those which are to 
be found at Thebes are referred, by common consent, to the lotus- 
bud. And yet, perhaps, they resemble any other bud as much as 
that of the lotus. It is, however, when they are fully open, that 
one flower is easily distinguishable from another by the shape 
and number of their petals, as well as by the variety of their 
colours. Like babies in their cradles, unopened buds are strangely 
alike. But seeing the place occupied by the lotus in the minds 
of the Egyptians, in their wooden architecture and painted 
decorations, it is natural enough to believe that it gave them 
their first hint for the capital in question ; we have, therefore, not 
hesitated to use the epithet lotiform which has been consecrated 
to it by custom. 

As for the campaniform capital we find it difficult to allow 
that it represents the open flower of the lotus. From a certain 
distance it no doubt resembles the general lines of some flowers, 
but those belong to the family of the CampanultuecB rather than 
to that of the nymphjeaceae. The profile of this inverted bell, 
however, does not seem to have been suggested by the wish to 

VOL. II. s 

130 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

imitate any flower whatever, least of all that of the lotus. The 
capitals at Soleb and Sesebi (Figs. 82 and 93) embody 
careful imitations of, at least, the general shapes and curves of 
date-tree branches. Here there is nothing of the kind. There 
is not the slightest indication of the elongated and crowded petals 
of the lotus. Both at Karnak and at the Ramesseum, the latter 
may be easily recognised among the stalks of papyrus and 
other freely imitated flowers, but upon the columns and not in 
their shapes. Both base and capital were ornamented with leaves 
and flowers. Their contours have been gently indicated with a 
pointed instrument and then filled in with brilliant colours, which 
help to relieve them from their ground. The whole decoration is 
superficial ; it is not embodied in the column and has no effect 
upon its general form and character. 

The following explanation of the resemblances which do un- 
doubtedly exist between certain details of Egyptian architecture 
and the forms of some of the national plants, is the most probable. 
The stalks of the lotus and the papyrus are too weak and slender 
ever to have been used as supports by themselves, but it is quite 
possible that on fete days, they were used to decorate pillars and 
posts of more substantial construction, being bound round them 
like the outer sticks of a faggot. This fashion has its modern 
illustration in the Italian habit of draping the columns of a church 
with cloth or velvet on special occasions, and in the French 
custom of draping houses with garlands and white cloth for the 
procession of the Fete Dieu. 

The river and the canals of Egypt offered all the elements for 
such a decoration. The lotus and papyrus stems would be 
attached to the column which they decorated, at the top and 
bottom. The leaves at the roots would lie about its base, those 
round the flower and the flower itself would droop gracefully 
beneath the architrave, would embrace and enlarge the capital 
when it existed, or supply its place when there was none. The 
eyes of a people with so keen a perception of beauty as the 
Egyptians could not be insensible to the charm of a column thus 
crowned with the verdure of green leaves, with the splendour of 
the open flower and with the graceful forms of the still undeveloped 
bud. It is probable enough that the architect, when he began to 
feel the necessity for embellishing the bare surface of his column, 
took this temporary and often-renewed decoration for his model 

The Egyptian Orders. 131 

The first attempt to imitate these natural forms would be made 
in wood and metal, substances which would lend themselves to 
the unpractised moulder more readily than stone, but in time the 
difficulties of the latter material would be overcome. The deep 
vertical grooves cut in the shaft would afford a rough imitation 
of the round stems of the lotus and the triangular ones of the 
papyrus. The circular belts at the top would suggest the cords 
by which they were tied to the shaft. The leaves and flowers 
painted upon the lowest part of the shaft and upon the capital, 
may be compared to permanent chromatic shadows of the bouquets 
of colour and verdure which had once hidden those members. 
Finally, the artist found in the swelling sides of the bud and the 
hollow curves of the corolla those flowing lines which he desired 
for the proper completion of his column. 

Thi6 hypothesis seems to leave no point unexplained, and it 
receives additional probability from a detail which can hardly be 
satisfactorily accounted for by the advocates of the rival theory. 
We mean the cube of stone which is interposed as a kind of abacus 
between the capital and the architrave. If we refer the general 
lines to those of a plain column bound about with flowering stalks, 
there is no difficulty. The abacus then represents the rigid 
column behind the decoration, raising its summit above the 
drooping heads of lotus and papyrus, and visibly doing its duty as 
a support. Its effect may not be very happy, but its raison cCitre 
is complete. On the other hand its existence is quite inexplicable, 
if we are to look upon the column as a reproduction in stone, a 
kind of petrifaction of a single stem. To what, in that case, does 
this heavy stone die correspond ? To those who believe the 
capital to be the representation of a single flower with its circlet of 
graceful petals, its presence must seem nothing less than an 

In their light structures only do we find the Egyptians frankly 
imitating flowers and half-opened buds (Figs. 57, 63, and 64), but 
even there the imitation is far from literal. The petals in a single 
" bloom '' are often of different colours, some blue, some yellow, 
others again red or pink, a mixture which is not to be found in 
nature. The Egj'ptian decorator thought only of decoration. 
He used his tints capriciously from the botanist's point of view, but 
he often reproduced the forms of Egyptian plants with considerable 
fidelity, especially those splendid lotus-flowers which occupied so 

132 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

large a part in his affections long before the poets of India sang 
their praise. In fashioning slender shafts which had little weight 
to support, the artist could give the reins to his fancy, he could 
mould his metal plates or his precious timber into the semblance 
of any natural form that pleased his eye, and the types thus 
created would, of course, be present in the minds of the first 
architects who attempted to decorate rock-cut tombs or temples 
and constructed buildings. We affirm again, however, that neither 
the stone column of the Egyptians, nor that of the Greeks, in its 
most complete and dignified form, resulted from the servile 
imitation, nor even from the intelligent interpretation of living 


The column was an abstract creation of plastic genius. Its 
forms were determined by the natural properties of the material 
employed, by structural necessities, and by a desire for beauty of 
proportion. Different peoples have had different ideas as to what 
constitutes this beauty ; they have had their secret instincts and 
individual preferences. The artist, too, who wishes to ornament 
a column, is sure to borrow motives from any particular form of 
art or industry in which the race to which he belongs may have 
earned distinction. In some cases, therefore, his work may 
resemble carved wood, in others chased or beaten metal. He will 
also be influenced, to some extent, by the features and characteristic 
forms of the plants and animals peculiar to his country. But 
wherever a race is endowed with a true instinct for art, its archi- 
tects will succeed in creating for stone architecture an appropriate 
style of its own. The exigencies of the material differ from those 
of metal or wood. Its unbending rigidity places a great gulf 
between it and the elasticity and perpetual mobility which 
characterize organic life. The Egyptian architects saw from the 
first that this difference, or rather contrast, would have to be 
reckoned with. They understood perfectly well that the shaft 
which was to support a massive roof of stone must not be a copy 
of those slender stems of lotus or papyrus which bend before the 
wind, or float upon the lazy waters of the canals. The phrase 
column-plant or plant-column^ which has sometimes been used in 
connection with the columns of Luxor and Karnak, is a 
contradiction in terms. 

But why should we dwell upon these questions of origin ? In 
the history of art, as in that of language, they are nearly always 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 133 

insoluble, especially when we have to do with a race who created 
all their artistic forms and idioms for themselves. The case is 
different when we have to do with a nation who came under the 
influence of an earlier civilization than their own. Then, and 
then only, can such an inquiry lead to useful results. The word 
origin is then a synonym for affiliation, and an inquiry is directed 
towards establishing the method and the period in which the act 
of birth took place. 

In our later volumes we shall have to go into such questions in 
detail, but in the case of Egypt we are spared that task. All that 
we mean by civilization had its origin in Egypt, so far, at least, as 
we can tell. It is the highest point in the stream to which we 
can mount. Any attempt to determine the genesis of each 
particular aesthetic motive in a past so distant that a glance into 
its depths takes away our breath, would be a mere waste of time 
and ingenuity. 

§ 6. The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades, 

A French writer tells us that uniformity is sure to give birth 
to weariness sooner or later, and there are many people who 
would believe, if they thought about it, that his words exactly 
apply to the art of Egypt. The character which was given 
to it when its creations first became known to modern Europe 
clings to it still. Our museums are full of objects dating from 
the last centuries of the monarchy and even from the Greek and 
Roman period. A very slight study of Egyptian architecture 
is sufficient, however, to destroy such a prejudice, in spite of 
its convenience for those who are lazily disposed. The pier and 
column were extremely various in their types, as we have seen, 
and each type was divided into numerous species. The same 
variety is found in the arrangement, or ordonnance, of the 
columns, both in the interior and exterior of their buildings. 
We cannot prove this better than by placing a series of plans 
of hypostyle halls and porticos before the eye of the reader, 
accompanied by a few illustrations in perspective which will 
suffice to show the freedom enjoyed by the Egyptian architect and 
the number of different arrangements which he could introduce 
into a single building. 



A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The fullest development of Egyptian columnar architecture is 
to be found in their interiors. 

The simplest arrangement is to be found in the small chambers 
where the roof is sustained by a single row of columns (Fig. 98). 
When the apartment was slighty larger it contained two rows, the 

o o 

9eo eo ® 



e % 




Fig. 99. — Small chamber 
at Karnak. 

Fig. 100. — Apartment in the 
temple at Luxor. 

Fig. ioi. — Hall of the temple at 
Abydos ; Description^ voL iL p. 41. 

space between the rows being wider than that between the 
columns and the wall (Fig. loo). Sometimes in still larger halls 
we find three rows of columns separated from one another by 
equal spaces in every direction (Fig. loi). Finally in those great 
chambers which are known as hypostyle halls, the number of 
columns seems to be practically unlimited. At Karnak there are 








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Fig. 102. — Plan of part of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. 

a hundred and thirty-four (Fig. 102), at the Ramesseum forty- 
eight, at Medinet-Abou twenty-four. 

The full effect of the hypostyle hall is to be seen at Karnak 
and at the Ramesseum. In those halls the central aisle is higher 
than the parts adjoining and is distinguished by a different type 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 


of column (Plate IV). It is more than probable that this happy 
arrangement was not confined to Thebes. We should no doubt 
have encountered it in more than one of the temples of Memphis 
and the Delta had they been preserved to our time. Its principle 
was reproduced in the propylaea of the acropolis at Athens, where 
the Ionic and Doric orders figured side by side. 


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Fig. 103. — Tomb at 

Fig. 104. — Hall in the inner portion of the 
Great Temple at Karnak. 

In the ancient tombs at Sakkarah the quadrangular pier alone 
was used to support the roof (Fig. 103). In the Theban temples 
it was combined with the column. In the chamber called the 
ambulatory of Thothmes (J in Fig. 215, Vol. I.), at Karnak, a 
row of square piers surrounds an avenue of circular columns which 
to bear the roof (Fig. 104). 

9* f /"^**. "f '•/•»'• 'f/t f/f 

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Fig. 105. — Portico of the first court at 

Fig. 106. — Portico of the first court at 


The external porticos are no less remarkable for variety of plan. 
At Medinet-Abou we find one consisting of only a single row 
of columns (Fig. 105). At Luxor the columns are doubled upon 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

all four sides of the first court (Fig. 106), and upon two sides of 
the second ; upon one side of the latter, the side nearest to the 
sanctuary, there are four rows of columns (Fig. 107). 

All these are within the external walls of the courts, but the 
peripteral portico, embracing the temple walls, like those of 
Greece, is also to be found in a few rare instances (Fig. 108) ; as. 

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Fig. 107. — The portico of the propaos, Luxor. 

for example, in the small temple at Elephantind which we have 
already described.^ 

In the cases where the portico is within the courts, it is some- 
times confined to two sides, as at Luxor (Fig. 109) ; the columns 
shown at the top of our plan belong to the pronaos and not to 

Fig. 108. — Part plan of the 
temple at Elephantine. 

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Fig. 109. — Luxor, plan of the 
second court. 

the court. In the Temple of Khons it surrounds three sides 
(Fig. no), while the fine court added to the temple of Luxor 
by Rameses II. has a double colonnade all round it (Fig. iii). 

Both in the interior of the halls and in the external porticos 
we find an apparently capricious irregularity in spacing the 

* Chapter iv. pp. 396-400, Vol. I. 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 


columns. Sometimes intercolumniations vary at points where we 
should expect uniformity, as in the outer court of Luxor (Fig. 1 12). 
On two of the faces the columns are farther apart than on the 
other two. The difference is not easily seen on the ordinary 
small plans, but it is conspicuous in the large one of the 

It is easy to understand why the spacing should have been 
increased in front of a door, an arrangement which exists at 
Gournah (Fig. 113), and at Luxor (Figs. 109 and iii). 

In the hypostyle halls we find columns of different sizes and 
orders. Six of the great columns which form the central avenue 
at Karnak cover as much ground, measuring from the first to 
the sixth, as nine of the smaller pillars. Between supports so 


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Fig. 1 10. — Portico in the Temple 
of Khons. 

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_1 I 

Fig. III. — Luxor, portico of the 
first court. 

arranged and proportioned no constant relation could be established 
(Fig. 114). The transverse lines passing through the centres of 
each pair of great columns correspond to the centres neither of the 
smaller shafts nor of the spaces which divide them. The central 
aisle and the two lateral groves of stone might have been the 
creations of separate architects, working without communication 
with one another and without any desire to make their proportions 
seem the result of one coherent idea. 

In the inner hypostyle hall at Abydos the intercolumniations 
which lead respectively to the seven sanctuaries vary in width 
(Fig. 115). This variation is not shown by Mariette, from whose 
work our plan of the temple as a whole was taken, but it is clearly 
seen in the plan given in the Description. These are not the only 

^ Description cU V^gypte^ plates, vol. iii. pi. 5. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt, 

instances in which those early explorers of Egypt excelled their 
successors in minute accuracy. 

' '/.'/ 




•>A 1)1 

Fig. 112.— Part of the portico of the fir.t 
court, Luxor. From the Description^ 
iii. S- 


I ■ ' « ' < 




Fig. 113. — Portico in front of the ia9ade of ihe 
temple of Goumah. From the Description, 
ii. 41. 

Here and there we find the spaces in a single row of columns 
increasing progressively from the two ends to the centre 
(Fig. 105). 

Fig. 1 14. — Fart of the Hypost>le Hall in the Great Temple at Karnak. 

The combination of quadrangular with Osiride piers and of the 
latter with columns proper was also productive of great variety. 
In the speos of Gherf-H ossein six Osiride piers are inclosed by 
six of quadrangular section (Fig. 116). In the first court at 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 


Medinet-Abou a row of Osiride piers faces a row of columns 
(Fig. 117), while in the second court there is a much more 
complicated arrangement. The lateral walls of the court are 

_■ Mil Pf • ■• 111)1 

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Fig. 115.— Second Hypostyle Hall in the temple of 
Abydos. Description^ iv. 36. 




Fig. 116. — Hall in the specs of 
Gherf-Hossein (from Prisse). 

prefaced each by a row of columns. The wall next the entrance 
has a row of Osiride piers before it ; while that through which the 
pronaos is gained has a portico supported by, first, a row of Osiride 
piers, and, behind them, by a row of columns (Fig. ii8). 


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Fig. 117. — Medinet-Abou; first court. 

Fig, 1 1 8. ^Medinet-Abou ; second 

In the temple of Khons the peristyle is continued past the door- 
way in the pylon (Fig. 1 19), and the inclosure is reached through 

140 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

one of the intercolumniations.' At Luxor, on the other hand, the 
portico was brought to an abrupt termination against the salient 
jambs of the doorway (Fig. 120). 

The Egyptian architect, like his Greek successor, made frequent 
use of the anta, that is, he gave a salience to the extremities of 
his walls which strengthened his design and afforded structural 

Fig. 119. — Portico of the Temple of Kbons, looking towards pronaos. 

members, akin to pilasters or quadrangular pillars, which were 
combined in various ways with columns and piers. Sometimes 
the anta is nothing but a slight prolongation of a wall beyond the 
point where it meets another (Fig. 121); sometimes it is the 
commencement of a returning wall which appears to have been 
broken off to give place to a row of columns (Fig. 122) ; a good 
instance of the latter arrangement is to be found on the fa9ade 

Fig. lao. — Portico of first court at Luxor. 

of the temple at Gournah. Sometimes, as at Medinet-Abou, it is 
a reinforcement to the extremity of a wall, and serves to form 
a backing for colossal Osiride statues (Fig. 123), sometimes it gives 

^ This is a mistake. By a reference to Fig. 208, Vol. I., or to Fig, 126 in this 
volume, it will be seen that the peristyle was not continued along the inner face 
of the pylon. — Ed. 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 


accent and strength to an angle, as in the Great Hall at Karnak 
(Fig. 124). At the Temple of Khons the terminations of the two 
rows of columns which form the portico are marked by antse on 
the inner face of the pylon (Fig. 126), while the wall which 


y. A- 



■My ■ 




\ i 

Fig. 121. — Anta, Luxor; second court. 
DescripHon, lii. 5. 


* ■ ■ ■ 



Fig. 122. — Anta, Goumah. From 

incloses the pronaos is without any projection except the jambs 
of the door. This arrangement has an obvious raison d'etre; 
if the columns were brought close up to the pylon their outlines 
would not combine happily with its inclined walls. At the other 


»■■> 1 ^ I » 

Fig. 123. — Anta, Mcdinet-Abou, 

\ \ I t t i 


Fig. 124. — Anta in the Great Hall of Karnak. 

extremity of the court, the wall being perpendicular, there was 
no necessity for such an arrangement.^ A glance at Fig. 126 will 

' The an'angement in question is capable of another and, perhaps, more 
simple explanation. The two rows of columns of which the portico in 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

make this readily understood. At Medinet-Abou the portico is 
terminated laterally by two ants, one corresponding to the row 
of columns, the other to the row of caryatid piers. In another 
court of the same temple the antae oa either side vary in depth, at 
one end of the portico there is a bold pilaster, at the other one 
which projects very slightly indeed {Fig. 128). This is another 
instance of the curious want of symmetry and regularity which 
is one of the most constant characteristics of Egyptian 


o o 
o o 

o o 


The anta is often without a capital, as, for instance, in the 
temple of Khons (Fig. 126). Elsewhere the architect seems 
to have wished to bring it into more complete harmony with 
the magnificence of its surroundings, and accordingly he gives 
it a capital, as at Medinet-Abou, but a capital totally unlike those 

question is composed, run in an unbroken line round the court with the exception 
of the side which is filled by the pylon. It was natural enough, therefore, that they 
should each be stopped against an anta, even if there had not been an additional 
reason in the inclination of the pylon. The ordonnance as a whole may be com- 
pared to a long portico, like that in the second court of the temple at Goumah, bent 
into two right angles. — Ed. 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 


proper to the column.^ It was identical in form with that gorge 
or cornice which crowns nearly every Egyptian wall. Considering 
that the anta was really no more than a prolongation or momen- 
tary salience of the wall, such an arrangement was judicious in 
every way (Fig. 129). 

The width of the intercolumniations also varied between one 
court or hall and another, and, at least in the present state of the 
Egyptian remains, we are unable to discover any rule governing 
the matter, such as those by which Greek architects were guided. 
We may affirm generally that the Egyptian constructor, especially 
in the time of the New Empire and when using columns of large 

-1' >. ri 


I . ' ■ « 

i M I5* 

Fio. 127. — ^Antse, Medinet-Abou. 









Fig. 128. — Antae, Medinet-Abou. 

dimensions, preferred close spacing to wide. His tendency to 
crowd his columns is to be explained, partly by the great weight 
of the superstructure which they had to support, partly by the 
national taste for a massive and close architecture. The spaces 
between the great columns in the hypostyle hall of Karnak, 
measured between the points of junction between the bases and 
the shafts, is slightly less than two diameters. The spaces 
between the smaller columns on each side are hardly more than 
one diameter. 

A better idea of the original character of these ordonnances 
may perhaps be gathered from the plate which faces the next page 

^ In this the Greek architects took the same course as those of Egypt 

144 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

(PI. viii) than to any plan to which we could refer the reader. 
It represents that part of the colonnade, in the second court 
of the temple at Medinet-Abou, which veils the wall of the 
pronaos, and it shows how little space the Egyptian architects 
thought necessary for the purposes of circulation. The spaces 
between the columns and the wall on the one hand and the osiride 
piers on the other, are not quite equal to the diameter of the bases 
of those columns, which have, however, been expressly kept 
smaller than was usual in Egypt. If they had been as large as 
some that we could point out, there would have been no room to 
pass between them and the wall. 

Did the Egyptians ever employ isolated columns, not as 
structural units, but for decorative purposes, for the support of 
a group or a statue ? Are there any examples of pillars like 
those which the Phoenicians raised before their temples, or the 
triumphal columns of the Romans, or those reared for com- 
memorative purposes in Paris and other cities of Modern Europe ? 
It. is impossible to give a confident answer to this question. The 
remains of the great colonnade which existed in the first court 
at Karnak, of which a single column with bell-shaped capital 
is still upright (Fig. 130), suggest, perhaps, that such monumental 
pillars were not unknown to the Egyptians. These columns 
display the ovals of Tahraka, of Psemethek, and of Ptolemy 
Philopator. The width of the avenue between them, measuring 
from centre to centre, is so great, about fifty-five feet, that it 
is difficult to believe that it could ever have been covered with 
a roof. Even with wood it would have been no easy matter — for 
the Egyptians — to cover such a void. We have, moreover, good 
reason to believe that they never used wood and stone together in 
their temples. A velarium has been suggested, but there is 
nothing either in the Egyptian texts or in their wall paintings to 
hint at their use of such a covering. 

It would have been quite possible to connect the summits of 
these columns together lengthwise. The architraves would have 
had less than twenty feet to bridge over. But not the slightest 
relic of such a structure has been found, and it is difficult to 
see what good purpose it could have served had it existed. 

The authors of the Description came to the conclusion that 
there had been no roof of any kind to the avenue formed by the 
columns, that they merely formed a kind of monumental approach 

d well Chipifii 

The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades. 145 

to the hypostyle hall.' Mariette also discards the idea of 
architraves, which would have to be unusually long, but he 
cannot accept the notion that the columns were merely colossal 
Venetian masts bordering the approach to the sanctuary. He 
supposes the centre of the courtyard to have contained a small 
hypaethral temple built by Tahraka. This temple figures upon 
his plan, but neither he himself, by his own confession, nor any one 
else has ever found the slightest trace of it in reality.^ In the ex- 
cavations made by him in 1859, he did not find a vestige even of 

Fici. 119. — Anta and column at Medinel-Abou. 

the two columns which he inserts upon each of the two short sides 
of the rectangle. These columns were necessary in order to 

• Description, Antiquitis, vol. v. pp. 120, iii. In their Description Giitkrale dt 
71i&es (ch. ix. section 8, 5 a), the same writers add ; " We are confirmed in our 
opinion by the discovery on a bas-relief of four lotus steins with their flowers sur- 
mounted by hawks and statues, and placed exactly in the same fashion as the 
columns which we have just described. They are votive columns. We are also 
confirmed in this opinion by the fact that we find things like them among those 
amulets which reproduce the various objects in the temples in small." This bas relief 
is figured in the third volume of plates of the Dtscription, pL 33, Fig. i. 

* Mariette, Karnai, p. 19, pi. 4. Vbyaj^ dans la Haute- Agypte, pp. 13, 2t, 21. 
VOL. U. U 

146 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

complete a peripteral arrangement, similar to that which exists 
in the hypaethral temples at Philae and in Nubia. The closest 
study oJF the site has brought to light nothing beyond the twelve 
columns shown in our plan (Fig. 214, e, Vol. I.). 

The most probable explanation is that which we have hinted at 
above.^ These great columns were erected to give majesty to the 
approach to the hypostyle hall, and to border the path followed 
by the great religious processions as they issued from the hall and 
made for the great doorway in the pylon. They must always 

Pig. 130. — Column in the court of tbe Bubaslides, at Xaniak. 

have been isolated, and it is possible that formerly each carried 
upon the cubic die which still surmounts the capital, groups of 
bronze similar to those which, to all appearance, crowned those 
stele-like piers which we described in speaking of the work of 
Thothmes in the same temple (page 94). This was also the 
opinion of Prisse d'Avennes, who studied the monuments of 
Egypt, both as an artist and as an archaeologist, more closely, 

' This explanation seems to have been accepted by Prof. Ebers ; Mgypten iin 
Bild und IVor/, vol. ii. p. 331. 

Monumental Details. 147 

perhaps, than any one else.^ It has been objected that the columns 
would hide each other, and that the symbolic animals perched 
upon their summits could not have been seen ; but this would only 
be the case with those who looked at them from certain disad- 
vantageous positions — from between the columns, or exactly on 
their alignment. From the middle of the avenue, or from one 
side of it, they would be clearly visible, and the vivid colours 
of their enamels would produce their full effect. 

The question might be decided in a very simple fashion. The 
summit of the column which is still upright mij^ht be examined, 
or the abacus of one of those which have fallen might be dis 
covered ; in either case traces of the objects which they supported 
would be found, supposing our hypothesis to be correct. More 
than one doubtful question of this kind would long ago have been 
solved had the Egyptian monuments been studied on the spot 
by archaeologists and artists instead of being left almost entirely 
to the narrower experience of engineers and egyptologists. 

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we shall, then, look 
upon it as probable that the Egyptians sometimes raised columns, 
like other people, not for the support of roofs and architraves, 
but as gigantic pedestals, as self-contained decorative forms, with 
independent parts of their own to play. Such a proceeding was 
doubtless an innovation in Egyptian art — one of those fresh 
departures which date from the latter years of the Monarchy. 
Even in Egypt motives grew stale with repetition at last, and she 
cried out for something new. 

§ 7. Monumental Details, 

We have seen that the proportions, the entasis, the shape, and 
the decoration of the Egyptian column, were changed more than 
once and in many ways. The Egyptian artist, by his fertility of 
resource and continual striving after improvement, showed that he 
was by no means actuated by that blind respect for tradition which 
has been too often attributed to him. Besides, the remains which 
we possess are but a small part of Egyptian architecture. The 
buildings of Memphis and of the Delta have perished. Had they 
been preserved we should doubtless have found among them 

* Maxime du Camp, Le Nil^ p. 251. 

148 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

forms and details which do not exist in the ruins of Abydos, of 
Thebes, or in the Nubian hypogea ; we should have been able 
to describe arrangements and motives which do not occur in the 
works of the three great Theban dynasties. 

On the other hand, the mouldings and other details of the same 
kind are monotonous in the extreme. Their want of variety is 
not to be explained, like that of Assyria, by the nature of the 
materials. Brick, granite, limestone, and sandstone constituted 
a series of materials in which a varied play of light and shade, 
such as that which characterized Greek architecture, should have 
been easy. The real cause of the poverty of Egyptian design in 
this particular is to be found in their habit of covering nearly 

Fig. 131. — Stereobale, Luxar. Fig. 133. — Stereobate with double plinth, Luxor. 

every surface with a carved and painted decoration. More 
elaborate or bolder mouldings might have interfered with the 
succession of row upon row of pictures from the bottom to the 
top of a wall. The eye was satisfied with the rich polychromatic 
decoration, and did not require it to be supplemented by 
architectural ornament. 

When the slope of a wall was ornamented with projections in 
the shape of mouldings it was because the wall was bare. At 
Luxor, for example, in the external face of the wall which incloses 
the back of the temple, the lowest course projects beyond the 
others, forming a step, and a few courses above it there is a 
hollow moulding similar in section to the cornice at the top ; the 

Monumental Details. 149 

lower part of the wall is thus formed into a stereobate (Fig. 
131). At another point in the circumference of this temple there 
is a stereobate of a more complicated description. It is terminated 
above by a cornice-shaped moulding like that just described, but 
it rests upon two steps instead of one (Fig. 132). By this it 
appears that the Egyptian architects understood how to add to 
apparent solidity of their buildings by expanding them at their 
junction with the ground. This became a true continuous 
stylobate, carrying piers, in peripteral temples likie that at 
Elephantind (Fig. 230, Vol. I.). In the latter building its form is 
identical with that which we have just described. 

We have now to describe an arrangement which, though rare in 
the Pharaonic period, was afterwards common enough. The 
portico which stretches across the back of the second court in the 
Ramesseum is closed to about a third of its height by a kind of 
pluteus (Fig. 133).^ This barrier formed a sort of tablet, sur- 
rounded by a fillet, and crowned by a cornice of the usual type, 
between each pair of Osiride piers. In the Ptolemaic temples the 
lower part of the portico was always closed in this fashion. It 
constitutes the only inclosure in front of the fine hypostyle hall 
at Denderah. 

We have now studied buildings in sufficient number to become 
familiar with the Egyptian Gorge, As early as the Ancient 
Empire the architects of Egypt had invented this form of cornice, 
and used it happily upon their massive structures. It is composed 
of three elements, which are always arranged in the same order. 
In the first place there is the circular moulding or torus with 
a carved ribbon twisting about it. This moulding occurs at the 
edge where two faces meet in most Egyptian buildings. It 
serves to give firmness and accent to the angles and, when used 
at the top of the wall, to mark the point where the wall ends and 

^ The Description de PAgypie indicates the existence of this pluteus both in the 
Ramesseum (vol ii. pi. 29) and at Medinet-Abou (vol. ii. pi. 7, Fig. 2). Photographs 
do not show a trace of it, but many parts of those buildings had disappeared before 
the beginning of the present century. There is no reason to suppose that the 
Ramesseum underwent any modification after the termination of the Tlieban 
supremacy. In his restoration of Dayr-el-Bahari, M. Brune has introduced 
a similar detail, which he would assuredly not have done unless he had found 
traces of it under the portico. Unfortunately his restoration is on a very small 
scale. That at Dayr-el-Bahari must have been the earliest example of such an 

150 A HiSTORV OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the cornice begins. Above this there is a hollow curve with 
perpendicular grooves, which, again, is surmounted by a plain 
fillet which makes a sharp line against the sky. In all this there 
is a skilful opposition of hollows to flat surfaces, of deep shadow 
to brilliant and unbroken sunlight, which marks the upward 

FlQ. 133. — Pluleus in (he intcrcolumnialions of the portico in Ihe second courl of Ihe Raineiseuin- 

determination of the great masses upon which it is used in the 
most effective manner. 

Although the Egyptian architect repeated this cornice con- 
tinually, he contrived to give it variety of effect by modifying its 
proportions, and by introducing different kinds of ornaments. In 

Monumental Details. 

the pylons, for Instance, we often find that the cornice of the 
doorway was both deeper and of bolder projection than those 
upon the two masses of the pylon itself {Fig. 134). It was 
generally ornamented with the winged globe, an emblem which was 
afterwards appropriated by the nations which became connected 
with Egypt. 

This emblem in its full development was formed of the solar 
disk supported on each side by the ursus, the serpent which meant 
royalty. The sun was thus designated as the greatest of kings, 

KiG. 134, — Doorway, Luxor. Dtscription, iti. 6. 

the king who mounted up into space, enlightening and vivifying the 
upper and lower country at one and the same time. The disk and 
its supporters were flanked by the two wide stretching wings with 
rounded, fan-shaped extremities, which symbolized the untiring 
activity of the sun in making its daily journey from one extremity 
of the firmament to the other. Egyptologists tell us that the 
group as a whole signifies the triumph of right over wrong, the 
victory of Horus over Set. An inscription at Edfou tells us that, 
after the victory, Thoth ordered that this emblem should be carved 
over every doorway in Egypt, and. in fact, there are very few 

152 A History 6f Art in Ancient Egypt. 

lintels without it.^ It first appears at about the time of the 
twelfth dynasty, according to Mariette, but its form was at first 
more simple. There were no urai, and the wings were shorter, 
and pendent instead of outstretched.* Towards the eighteenth 
dynasty it took the shape in which it is figured in our illustrations, 
and became thenceforward the Egyptian symbol par excellence. 

In the more richly decorated buildings, such as the Ramesseum, 
we sometimes find cartouches introduced between the vertical 
grooves of the cornice (Fig. 135). In the representations of 
architecture on the painted walls the upper member of the cornice 
as usually constituted, is often surmounted by an ornament 
composed of the uraeus and the solar disk, the latter being upon 
the head of the former (Fig. i36)._ This addition gives a richer 

and more ample cornice, which the Ptolemaic architects carried 
out in stone. It is not to be found thus perpetuated in any. 
Pharaonic building, but the same motive occurs at Thebes, below 
the cornice, and its existence in the bas-reliefs shows that even 
in early times it was sometimes used. Perhaps it was confined to 
those light structures in which complicated forms were easily 
carried out. 

This cornice seemed to the Egyptians to be so entirely the 
proper termination for their rising surfaces, that they placed it at 

' The history and signification of this symbol were treated by Brugsch in a paper 
entitled: " Die Sage von der gefiiigelten SonnenscMbe nack alt Mgyptisclun QuelUn 

* tn this restricted and comparatively mean form the emblem in question is found 
at Beni-Hassan. (Lepsius, DenkniirUr, part ii. pi. 113.) 

Monumental Details. 153 

the top of their stylobates (Figs. 131 and 132) and their pedestals 
(Fig. 137). They also used it within their buildings at the top of 
the walls behind their colonnades, as, for instance, in the peripteral 
temple at Elephantine (Fig- 138). 

The number of buildings in which this cornice was not used is 
very small. The Royal Pavilion at Medinet-Abou is surrounded, 
at the top, by a line of round-headed battlements ; in the Temple 
of Semneh, built by Thothmes 1.,' and in the pronaos of the 
Temple of Amada, the usual form gives place to a square cornice 
which is quite primitive in its simplicity. 

Traces of other mouldings, such as those which we call the 
cyma, and the cyma reversa, may be found in Egyptian 

temples, but they occur so rarely that we need not dwell upon 
them here or figure them.^ 

Besides these mouldings, which were used but very rarely, 
we need only mention one more detail of the kind, namely, 
those vertical and horizontal grooves which occur upon the 
masonry walls and were derived from the structures in wood. 
They were chiefly used for the ornamentation of the great sur- 
faces afforded by the brick walls (Fig. 261, Vol. I.), but they are 
also to be found upon stone buildings. We give, as an example, a 
fragment found at Alexandria, which is supposed to belong to the 

I Lepsius, DenkmaUr^ vol. ii. pi- 83, and voL v. pi. 56. 
' See Chipiez, Histoin Critique des Ordres Grttques, p. 90. 

T54 A, History of Art in Ancient Egypt, 

lower part of a sarcophigus. A curious variation of the same 
ornament exists in one of the royal tombs at Thebes (Fig. 140), 
in which each panel is separated from its neighbours by the 
figures of headless men with their hands tied behind their backs. 
They represent, no doubt, prisoners of war who have been 

;-■■.:- g^^^^^- 

Vjc, 139.— hragroenl of a sarcophagus. Dacription, v. 47, 

beheaded, and the decorator has wished, by the use of a some- 
what barbarous though graceful motive, to suggest the exploits 
of him for whom the sepulchre was destined. 

Not much variety was to be obtained from the use of these 
grooves, but yet they disguised the nudity of great wall spaces, 
they prevented monotony from becoming too monotonous, while 

Flo. 140.— Fragmenl of decoration from a royal tomb at Thfbes. Dticrif-li/n, ii. 86. 

they afforded linear combinations which had some power to please 
the eye. The Assyrians made use of hardly any other mode of 
breaking up the uniformity of their brick walls. 

It has been asserted that the first signs of that egg-moulding 
which played so great a part in Greek architecture are to be 

Monumental Details. 155 

found in Egypt. Nestor L'Hote thought that he recognised it 
in the entablature, under the architrave, of some pavilions figured 
in decorations at Tell-el-Amarna and at Abydos.^ He was 
certainly mistaken. The outline of the ornament to which he 
referred has a distant resemblance to the moulding in question, 
but the place which it occupies gives it an entirely different 
character ; it seems to be suspended in the air under the enta- 
blature. In other painted pavilions the same place is occupied 
by flowers, bunches of grapes, and fruits resembling dates or acorns, 
suspended in the same fashion.^ If such forms must be explained 
otherwise than by the mere fancy of the ornamentist, we should 
be inclined to see in them metal weights hung round the edges 
of the awnings, which supplied the place of a roof in many 
wooden pavilions. 

The same remarks may be applied to those objects, or rather 
appearances, to which the triglyphs of the Doric order have been 
referred. It is true that in the figured architecture of the bas- 
reliefs many of the architraves seem to show vertical incisions 
arranged in groups of three, each group being separated from 
the next by a square space which recalls the Greek metope 
(Figs. 62-64). But sometimes these stripes follow each other 
at regular intervals, sometimes they are in pairs, and sometimes 
they are altogether absent, the architrave being either plain or 
decorated with figures and inscriptions. Where the stripes are 
present they represent sometimes applied ornaments, sometimes 
the ends of transverse joists appearing between the beams of the 
architrave. Similar ornaments surround the paintings in the 
tombs, and are to be found upon the articles of furniture, such 
as chairs, which form part of most Egyptian museums. Neither 
these so-called triglyphs and metopes, which do slightly resemble 
the details so named of the Doric order, nor the egg moulding, 
which is a pure delusion, ever received that established form and 
elemental character which alone gives such things importance. 
Architecture — stone architecture — made no use of them, and the 
analogies which some have endeavoured to establish are mis- 
leading. The apparent coincidence resulted from the nature of 
the material and from the limited number of combinations which 
it allowed. 

^ Letlres^ pp. 68, 117. 

^ See the plate in Prisse entitled Details de Colonnetics de Bois, 

156 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

§ 8. Doors and Windows, 

So far we have been concerned with the structure and shape 
of Egyptian buildings ; we have now to describe the openings 
pierced in their substance for the admission of light, for the 
circulation of their inhabitants and for the entrance of visitors 
from without. The doors and windows of the Egyptians were 
peculiar in many ways and deserve to be carefully described. 


The plans of Egyptian doorways do not always show the same 
arrangements. The embrasure of which j we moderns make use 
is seldom met with. It occurs in the peripteral temple at 
Elephantine, but that is quite an exception (Fig. 141). The 
doorways of the temples were generally planned as in Fig. 142, 
and 'in the passage which traverses the thickness of the pylons, 
there is in the middle an enlargement forming a kind of chamber 
into which, no doubt, double doors fell back on either side 
(Fig. 143). 

In their elevations doorways show still greater variety. 

Let us consider in the first place those by which access was 
gained to the temenos, or outer inclosure, of the temple. They 
may be divided into three classes. 

First of all comes the pylon proper, with its great doorway 
flanked on either side by a tower which greatly excedes it in 
height (Fig. 207, Vol. I.). Champollion has pointed out that even in 
the Egyptian texts themselves a distinction is made between the 
pylon and that which he calls the propylon. The latter consists 
of a door opening through the centre of a single pyramidoid mass, 
and instead of forming a fa9ade to the temple itself, it is used for 
the entrances to the outer inclosure. Figs. 144 and 145 show the 
different hieroglyphs which represent it.^ 

These propylons, to adopt Champollion's term, seem to have 
included two different types which are now known to us only 
through the Ptolemaic buildings and the monumental paintings, as 

* From Champollion, Grammaire Agyptienne^ p. 53. 


Doors and Windows. 


the boundary walls of the Pharaonic period have almost entirely 
disappeared and their gateways with them. 

We have illustrated the first type in our restoration, page 339, Vol. I, 
(Fig. 206). The doorway itself is very high, in which it resembles 
many propylons of the Greek period which still exist at Karnak 
and Denderah.^ The thickness of the whole mass and its double 
cornice, between which the covered way on the top of the walls 
could be carried, are features which we also encounter in the 
propylon of Denderah and in that of the temple at Daybod in 

■■ ■ ' > 

J > ' 


^^IlL^ {Z^ 





' }v? r . ' — ' — / 

■'■ ■ '/: 

Fig. 141. — Plan of doorway, 
Temple of Elephantine. 

Fig. T42. — Plan of doorway, Temple of 


Nubia,^ We have added nothing but the wall, and a gateway, 
in Egypt, implies a wall ; for there is no reason to suppose that the 
Egyptians had anything analogous to the triumphal arches of the 
Romans. The temple was a closed building, to which all access 
was forbidden to the crowd. The doors may well have been 
numerous, but, if they were to be of any use at all, they must have 
been connected by a continuous barrier which should force the 
traffic to pass through them. 

1 r^ 

. - - ^ ■ '' : . - 



■h, v\ 

Fig. 143. — Plan of doomay in the i^ylon, 
Temple of Khons. Description, iii. 54. 

Figs. 144, 145. — The pylon and propylon 
of the hieroglyph-^. 

In our restorations this doorway rises above the walls on each 
side and stands out from them, on plan, both within and without. 
We may fairly conjecture that it was so. The architect would 
hardly have wasted rich decoration and a well designed cornice 
upon a mass which was to be almost buried in the erections on 
each side of it. It must have been conspicuous from a distance, and 
this double relief would make it so. There are, moreover, a few 

* Ebers, /Egypten^ p. 250. 

* Felix Teynard, Vues cPAgypieet de Nubie^ pi. 106. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

instances in which these secondary entrances have been preserved 
together with the walls through which they provided openings, 
and they fully confirm our conjectures. One of these is the 
gateway to the outer court of the Temple of Thothmes at Medinet- 
Abou (Fig. 146), This gateway certainly belongs to the 
Ptolemaic part of the building, but we have no reason to suppose 
that the architects . of the Macedonian period deserted the 
ancient forms. 

The propylons were decorated with masts like the pylons, as 
we see by a figure in a painting in one of the royal tombs at 
Thebes, which was reproduced by Champollion ' {Fig. 147), 
Judging from the scenes and inscriptions which accompany it, 
Champollion thought this represented a propylon at the 

Ramesseum. That the artist should, as usual, have omitted 
the wall, need not surprise us when we remember how mono- 
tonous and free from incident those great brick inclosures must 
have been. 

The second type of propylon differs from the first in having 
a very much smaller doorway in comparison with its total mass. 
In the former the door reaches almost to the cornice, in the latter 
it occupies but a very small part of the front This is seen in 
Fig. 147, and, still more conspicuously, in Fig. 148, which was 
also copied by Champollion from a tomb at Thebes.^ In one of 
these examples the walls are nearly vertical, in another they have 
a considerable slope, but the arrangement is the same and the 

' Monuments de I'Agypte el de la Nubie, Notices Descriptives, j). 504, 
' Notices Descriptives, p. .131. 

Doors and Windows. 159 

proportions of the openings to the towers themselves do not 
greatly differ. Our Fig. 149, which was composed by the help of 
those representations, is meant to give an idea of the general 
composition of which the door with its carved jambs and architrave, 
and the tower with its masts and banners, are the elements. The 
two types only differ from one another in the relative 
dimensions of their important parts, and the transition 
between them may have been almost imperceptible. 
It would seem that in the Ptolemaic epoch the wide 
and lofty doors were the chief objects of admiration, 
while under the Pharaohs, the towers through which 
they were pierced were thought of more importance. 

If we examine the doorways of the temples themselves we 
shall there also find great variety in the manner in which they 
are combined architecturally with the walls in which they occur. 

In the Temple of Khons the jambs of the door are one, 
architecturally, with the wall. The courses are continuous. The 

KtG. 149. — Gateway in tlie inclining vtall cfa Temple. Restored by Ch. Chipiez. 

lintel alone, being monolithic, has a certain independence (Fig- 1 50). 
I n the Temple of Gournah, on the other hand, the doorway forms 
a separate and self-contained composition. The jambs are 
monoliths as well as the lintel, and the latter, notwithstanding the 
great additional weight which it has to carry, does not excede the 

i6o A History of Akt in Ancient Egypt. 

former In section. At Abydos, on the other hand, the capital 
part which this stone has to play is indicated by the great size 
of the sandstone block of which it is composed {Fig. 154). 

Fiu. 150. r— Doorway of the Temple of Khons. DtscripHett, iii, 54, 

One of the doorways we have represented, that in Fig. 146, 
requires to be here mentioned again for a moment. Its lintel is 

Fig. 151.— D(K>rn-«y of the Temple of Gournah. Descriftien, ii. 41. 

discontinuous. The doorway in question dates from the 
Ptolemaic period, but there is undoubted evidence that the same 

Doors and Windows. i6i 

form was sometimes used in the Pharaonic period for the openings 
in inclosing walls. There is a representation of such a door 
in a bas-relief at Karnak. where it is shown in front of a pylon 
and forms probably an opening in a boundary wall.^ It was this 
representation that decided us to give a broken lintel to the 

Iw.. 151.— Doom ay of the TempU of beti, at Abydos. 

doorway opposite to the centre of the royal pavilion at Medinet- 
Abou (Plate VIII,). This form of entrance may have originated 
in the desire to give plenty of head-room for the canopy under 
which the sovereign was carried, as well as for the banners and 
various standards which we see figured in the triumphal and 
religious processions of the bas-reliefs (Fig. 172, Vol. I.). 

' Pbisse, Histoire dc PArl EgyptUn. 

A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 


The royal pavilion at Medinet-Abou is the only building in 
Egypt which has preserved for us those architectural features 
which we call windows. They differ one from another, even 
upon this single building, as much as the doors. One of them 
(Fig. 153) is enframed like the doorway at Gournah ; but the 
jambs are merely the ends of the courses which make up the 

FiQS. 153, 154.— Windows in the Royal Pavilion at Medinel-Abou. 

wall, and their salience is very slight. On the other hand 
a window frame with a very bold relief (Fig. 154) is to be 
found in the same building. This window is a little work of 
art in itself It is surmounted by a cornice, over which again 
appear various emblems carved in stone, making up one of 
the most graceful compositions to be found in Egyptian 

§ 9. The Illumination of the Temples. 

We have described the way in which the Egyptian architects 

treated doors and windows from an artistic point of view ; we 

have yet to show the method which they adopted for allowing 

sufficient light to penetrate into their temples, that is. into those 

Fic, 155. — Altic of the Greal Hall at Kamtk. Restored by Ch. Cbipici. 

The Illumination of the Temples. 


buildings, which, being closely shut against the laity, could not be 
illuminated from windows in their side walls. Palaces and private 
houses could have their windows as large and as numerous as they 
chose, but the temple could only be lighted from the roof, or at 
least from parts contiguous to the roof. 

The hypostyle hall at Karnak, with its lofty walls and close 
ranges of columns, would have been in almost complete darkness 
had it been left to depend for light upon its doors alone. But 
the difference of height between the central aisle and those to the 
right and left of it, was taken advantage of to introduce the light 
required for the proper display of its magnificent decorations. 



—Clatistra of the Hypostyle Hall, KtiniBk. Dtscriptim 

The wall which filled up the space between the lower and upper 
sections of roof, forming something almost identical with the 
clerestory of a Gothic cathedral, was constructed of upright sand- 
stone slabs, about sixteen feet high, which were pierced with 
numerous perpendicular slits. Stone gratings, or claustra as the 
Romans would have called them, were thus formed, through which 
the sunlight could stream into the interior. The slits were about 
ten inches wide and six feet high. The illustration on page 163 
shows how the slabs were arranged and explains, moreover, the 
general disposition of the roof. Fig. 156 gives the claustra in 
detail, in elevation, in plan, and in perspective. 

i66 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The hypostyle halls are nearly always lighted upon the same 
principle. The chief differences are found in the sizes of the 
openings. At the Temple of Khons, where the space to be 
lighted was not nearly so large, the slabs of the daustra were 
much smaller and the openings narrower {Fig. 157). In one of 
the inner halls at Karnak a different system has been used. The 
light penetrates through horizontal openings in the entablature, 
between the architrave and the cornice, divided one from another 
by cubes of stone (Fig. 158). In the inside the architrave was 

bevelled on its upper edge, so as to allow the light to penetrate 
into the interior at a better angle than it would otherwise 
have done. 

The use of these daustra, full of variety though they were in 
the hands of a skilful architect, were not the only methods of 
lighting their temples to which the Egyptians had recourse. 
They were helped in their work, or, in the case of very small 
chambers, replaced, by oblique or vertical openings contrived 
in the roof itself. These oblique holes are found in the superior 
angles of the hypostyle hall at Karnak {Fig. 159). After the roof 

The Illumination of the Temples. 167 

was in place it was seen, no doubt, that the clauslra did not 
of themselves give enough light for the huge chamber, and these 

Compiled Irom ihe plans and 

narrow openings were laboriously cut in its ceiling. One of the 
inner chambers of the Temple of Khons is feebly lighted by 
vertical holes cut through the slabs of the roof (Fig. 160). Similar 

Fii;. 160. — Method of li|h(infOiie 
of ibe rooms in the Temple of 
Khons. Deicrifliott, iiL 55. 

Openings are to be seen in the lateral aisles of the hypostyle hall 
in the Ramesseum. The slight upward projection which surrounds 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the upper extremities of these holes should be noticed (Fig. i6i). 
Finally there are buildings in which these openings are the only 
sources of illumination. This is notably the case in the Temple of 
Amada. The upper part of our plan (Fig. 162) represents the 
roof of that temple and the symmetrically arranged openings with 
which it is pierced. 

Fig. 161. — Light openings ii 

The Ptolemaic Temple of Edfou is much more generously 
treated in the matter of light Its flat roof is pierced by two large 
rectangular openings resembling the compluvium of a Pompeian 
house, and making it, in a certain sense, hypasthral. No example 
of such an arrangement has been met with in the Pharaonic 


Fic. l6l,— The Temple of Amada. Fig. 163.— C/abj/™, from a paintinz, 

temples. It is possible that its principle was directly borrowed 
from the Greeks. It is hardly so consistent with the national 
ideas and traditions as the clausira. 

Palaces and private houses were, as we have said, better lighted 
than the temples. The illustrations in the preceding chapter 

The Obelisks. 


show private houses with their windows. Some of those houses 
had windows formed of stone claustra. The window copied by 
Champollion ^ from the walls of a small chamber in the Temple of 
Thothmes at Medinet-Abou (Fig. 163), shows this, as well as an 




1 1 




I!l!!l|.'||l'!l,ll- T^ 


-|!::ii [ i!;iiiiiif 



Fig. 164. — Window of a house 
in the form of claustra. 

Fig. 165. — Window closed by a 


opening in the house illustrated in Fig. 19, which we here 
reproduce upon a larger scale (Fig. 164). We do the same for a 
window belonging to the building shown in Fig. i. It is closed 
by a mat which was raised, no doubt, by means of a roller and 
cords (Fig, 165). 

§ 10. T/ie Obelisks. 

We cannot bring our analysis of the forms and motives of 
Egyptian architecture to an end without mentioning a monumental 
type which is peculiar to Egypt, that of the obelisks. These are 
granite monoliths ^ of great height, square on plan, dressed on all 
four faces, and slightly tapering from base to summit. They 
usually terminate in a small pyramid, whose rapidly sloping sides 
contrast strongly with the gentle inclination of the main block 
beneath. This small pyramid is called the pyramidion. 

The tall and slender shapes of these monoliths and their 
pointed summits have led to their being compared, in popular 
language, with needles and spindles.^ The first Greeks who 

^ Notices Descripiivesy p. 332, fig. 2. 

' In front of the sphinxes which stand before the great pylon at Kamak there 
are two small obelisks of sandstone. 

3 The Italians call them guglie^ needles, and the Arabs micellet Faracun^ Pharaoh's 

needles. The obelisks now in London and New York respectively, which were 

taken by the Romans from the ruins of Heliopolis, in order to be erected in front 

of the Caesareum at Alexandria, were known as Cleopatra's Needles. Herodotus 


I70 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

visited the country and found a monumental type so unlike any- 
thing they had at home, wished to convey a good idea of it 
to their compatriots ; they accordingly made use of the word 
'ofieXofy a spindle. It is difficult to understand how their de- 
scendants came to prefer hPeXlcKOf, a little spindle.^ A diminutive 
hardly seems the right kind of word under the circumstances ; an 
augmentative would, perhaps, have been better. But it was 
this diminutive that the Romans borrowed from the Greeks of 
Alexandria and transmitted to the modem world. 

This is not the place for an inquiry into the meaning of the 
obelisk. It may symbolize, as we have often been told, the ray of 
the sun, or it may be an emblem of Amen-Generator.^ It seems 
to be well established, that in the time of the New Empire 
at least, it was used to write the syllable men, which signified 
firmness or stability.^ 

The usual situation of the obelisks was in front of th^ first 
pylon of the temples. There they stood in couples, one upon ^ach 
side of the entrance. Those instances where they are found, 
as at Karnak, surrounded by the buildings of the temple, are easily 
explained. The two obelisks in the caryatid court were erected 
during the eighteenth dynasty, at a time when those parts of the 
temple which lie between the obelisks and the outer wall were not 
yet in existence. The obelisks of Hatasu, when first erected, 
were in front of the Temple of Amen as it was left by the early 
sovereigns of the eighteenth dynasty. 

But the obelisk was not the exclusive property of the temples. 
Some little ones of limestone have been found in the mastabas,* 
and Mariette has described those which formerly stood in front of 
the royal tombs belonging to the eleventh dynasty, in the Theban 
necropolis. He has published the inscription which covers the four 
faces of one of these obelisks, a monolith some ten feet nine 

only used the expression, ojS^Xo^. "Ev rw rc/xo^ct ofi^kol karoucn /xcyoXoi XiOwoi (ii. 172 ; 
also ii. III). 

* DioDORUS (i. 57, 59), always uses the word o^ScXwr/cos. The temiination is 
certainly that of a diminutive. See Ad. Regnier, Traite de la Formation dts Mots 
dans la Langue Grecqtie, p. 207. 

* De Rouc6, Etude sur les Monuments de Karnak. 
3 PiERRET, Dictionnaire d* ArcheologU EgypHenne. 

^ A small funerary obelisk, about two feet high, is now in the museum of Berlin. 
It is figured in the Denkmceler, part ii. pi. 88. It was found in a Gizeh tomb dating 
from the fifth dynasty. 

The Obelisks. 171 

inches high.^ Obelisks seem also to have been employed for the 
decoration of palaces, as we may conclude from a Theban painting 
in which one appears before the principal entrance to a villa 
surrounded with beautiful gardens.'^ Judging by the sizes of 
people in the same painting, this obelisk must have been abt»ut 
thirteen feet high. 

Diodorus speaks of obelisks erected by Sesostris which were 
120 cubits, nearly 180 feet, high ; ^ and different texts allude 
to monoliths which were 130, 117, and 114 feet high. We have 
some difficulty in accepting the first of these figures. The obelisk 
of Hatasu, at Karnak, which is the tallest known, is 108 feet 10 
inches in height.* That which is still standing at Matarieh, on 
the site of the ancient Heliopolis, is only 67 feet 4 inches high. 
But the fact that it is the oldest of the colossal obelisks of Egypt 
makes it more interesting than some which 
surpass it in size (Fig. 167). It bears 
the name of Ousourtesen I., of the twelfth 
dynasty. As a rule, the inscriptions cut 
upon the four sides of those obelisks which 
are complete are very insignificant. They 
consist of little but pompous enumerations 
of the royal titles.^ 

The two obelisks erected by Rameses II. '''"Uli^^HS'^.r"'?'^,'." 
in front of the first pylon at Luxor were ^'°'^ Manetie.' 
slightly unequal in height. One was 83 feet 

4 inches, the other 78 feet 5 inches. To hide this difference 
to some extent they were set upon bases also of unequal 
height, and the shorter was placed slightly in advance of its 
companion, i.e. slightly nearer to the spectator approaching the 
temple by the dromos.^ By these means they hoped to make 

' Mariette, Menummls Divers, pi. 50, The obelisks illustrated in this chapter 
are all drawn to the same scale in order to facilitate comparison. 

' Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc., p. 396. ' Diodorus, i. 57. 

' Recent measuremeot has showm that the Height given on page 105, Vol. I., is 
incorrect. — Ed. 

* In the Didionnairt d'Arch^oIogie Egyptienne of M. Pierret, a translation of the 
hieroglyphics upon one side of the Paris obelisk will be found under the word 
Obilisque. The AtheruEum for October 27, 1877, contains a complete translation of 
the inscription upon the London obelisk, by Dr. Birch. — Ed. 

" Monuments Divers, pi. 50, 

^ Description, Antiquiles, vol. ii. pp. 37 1-373. I" o'"' *''^" o' Lnxor on page 345 

172 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the difference between the two less conspicuous. This difference 
may have been caused by any slight accident, or by the discovery 
of a flaw in the granite during the operation of cutting it in the 
quarry. In dealing with huge blocks like these, such contretemps 
must have been frequent. 

The smaller of the two obelisks was chosen for transport to 
Paris in 1836. In its present situation on the Place de la 
Concorde it is separated from the sculptured base upon which 
it stood at Luxor. The northern and southern faces of that 
pedestal were each ornamented with four cynocephali adoring 
the rising sun ; the other two had figures of the god Nile 
presenting offerings to Amen (Fig. 168). 

In order to restore this and other obelisks to the form which 
they enjoyed in the days of the Pharaohs we should have to give 
them back their original summits as well as their pedestals. 
Hittorf has shown that these probably consisted of caps of gilded 
copper fitted over the pyramidion,^ in those cases where the latter 
was not ornamented with carved figures. A curious passage in 
Abd-al-latif, which has been often cited, proves that the pyramid 
of Ousourtesen preserved its cap as late as the thirteenth century. 
" The summit," says the Arab historian, '* is covered with a kind 
of funnel-shaped copper cap, which descends about three cubits 
from the apex. The weather of so many centuries has made the 
copper green and rusty, and some of the green has run down the 
shaft of the obelisk." ^ In the plate attached to his essay, Hittorf 
gives us a plan and elevation of the pyramidion of the smaller 
obelisk of Luxor. He shows how its broken and irregular mass 
implies a metallic covering, a covering whose existence is more- 
over proved by the groove or rebate, about an inch and a 
half deep, which runs round the summit of the shaft. His 
Figs. 3 and 4 show that this groove was carefully polished. 
His conclusions have failed to find acceptance in some quarters. 
It has been asserted that the rays of the sun, striking upon such 
a surface, would be reflected in a dazzling fashion, and that the 

we have restored the base of the larger obelisk after that belonging to the one now 
at Paris. We were without any other means of ascertaining its form. 

^ Precis sur les Pyramidions de Bronze dork Employes par les Anciens Agy'pHens 
comme couronnement de quelques-uns de leurs ObklisqueSy etc. J. J. Hittorf, 
8vo, 1836. 

* Abd-al-latif, Relation de tAgypte ; French translation by Silvestre de Sacy, 
published in 4to, in 18 10, p. 181. — Ed. 

Fig. 168.— The obelisk in the Place 
rte la Concorde, rolored to its 
original base. From Prisae. 

174 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

general effect would have been unsatisfactory. The Egyptians 
liad no such fear. They made lavish use of gold in the decora- 
tion of their buildings. According to the inscription which covers 
the four sides of the pedestal under the obelisk of Hatasu at 
Karnak, the pyramidion was covered '* with pure gold taken from 
the chiefs of the nations," which seems to imply either a cap of 
gilded copper, like that of the obelisk at Heliopolis, or a golden 
sphere upon the very apex. An object of this latter kind is 
figured in some of the bas-reliefs at Sakkarah. Besides this there 
is no doubt that the obelisk in question was gilded from head to 
foot. " We remark, in the first place, that the beds of the hiero- 
glyphs were carefully polished ; secondly, that the four faces of the 
obelisk itself were left comparatively rough, from which we should 
conclude that the latter alone received this costly embellishment, 
the hieroglyphs preserving the natural colour of the granite." ^ 

In that transplantation of which the Ptolemies first set the 
example, the obelisk at Paris was deprived of its original pedestal, 
as we have seen ; it was erected in an open space of such extent 
that its dimensions seem almost insignificant ; it was placed upon 
a pedestal which, neither in dimensions nor design, has anything 
Egyptian about it : and finally it was deprived of its metal finial. 
It can therefore give but little idea of the effect which the obelisks 
produced while they still remained in the places for which they 
were designed. The artistic instinct of Theophile Gautier was 
quite alive to this fact when he penned his fanciful but charming 
lines on the Nostalgic (TObdisque. 

A curious fact has been ascertained in connection with the 
obelisks of Luxor. Their faces present a slight convexity, the 
total protuberance at the base being rather more than an inch and 
three-tenths. It is probable that the same arrangement would 
be found in other obelisks if they were carefully examined. Its 
explanation is easy. If the surfaces had been absolute planes 
they would have been made to appear concave by the sharpness 
of the corners. It was necessary, therefore, to give them a 
gentle entasis which should gradually diminish towards the 
summit, completely disappearing by the time the pyramidion 
was reached. 2 

* Mariette, Itinkraire de la ffaute-^gypte, third edition, p. 142. 

s Description, Antiquites, vol. ii. p. 369. — Charles Blanc, Voyage dans la Haute- 

The Obeli.sks. 175 

The obelisk at Beggig, in the Fayoum, offers a singular variant 
upon the type which we have described. It was formerly a 
monolith about 43 feet high ; it is now overthrown and broken 
into two pieces. It bears the ovals of Ousourtesen I., and 
would seem, therefore, to be contemporary with the obelisk at 
Heliopolis.^ Its peculiarity consists in its shape. It is a 
rectangular oblong, instead of a square, on plan. Two of its 
sides are 6 feet 9 inches wide, and the other two about 4 feet. It 
has no pyramidion. The summit is rounded from front to back, 

forming a ridge, and the upper part of its principal faces are filled 
with sculptures in low relief (Fig 170). All this makes it resemble 
a gigantic stele rather than an obelisk {Fig. i6g). 

Whatever may have been the origin of this form it never 
became popular in Egypt. In Nubia atone do we find the type 

' For an interesting description of the present state and curious situation of 
this obelisk, see The Land of Khemi, by Lai;rknce Oliphant, pp. g8-roo, 
(Blackwood. 188a). — Ed. ' Denkm&Ur, part ii. pi. 119 

176 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

repeated, and that only in the debased periods of art. On the 
other hand, the obelisks proper seem to have been made in truly 
astonishing numbers in the time of the Middle and New Empires. 
Egypt has supplied Rome, Constantinople, Paris, London, and 
even New York with these monoliths, and yet she still possesses 
many at home. Of these several are still standing and in good 
preservation, others are broken and buried beneath the ruins of 
the temples which they adorned. At Karnak alone the sites of 
some ten or twelve have been found. Some of these are still 
standing, some are lying on the ground, while of others nothing 
is left but the pedestals. At the beginning of the century the 
French visitors to the ruins of San, the ancient Tanis, found the 
fragments of nine different obelisks.^ 

§ 1 1. The Profession of Architect. 

It may seem to some of our readers that we have spent too 
much time and labour on our analysis of Eg^^ptian architecture. 
Our excuse lies in the fact that architecture was the chief of the 
arts in Egypt We know nothing of her painters. The pictures 
in the Theban tombs often display great taste and skill, but they 
seem to have been the work of decorators rather than of painters 
in the higher sense of the word. Sculptors appear, now and then, 
to have been held in higher consideration. The names of one or 
two have come down to us, and we are told how dear they were 
to the kings who employed them.^ But the only artists who had 
a high and well defined social position in ancient Egypt, a country 
where ranks were as distinctly, marked as in China, were the 
architects or engineers, for they deserve either name. Their 

^ Description^ AnHquites^ ch. 23. — M. Edouard Naville has recently (June 16, 
1882) published in XYitJourfial de Geneve an account of a visit to these ruins, during 
which he counted the fragments of no less than fourteen obelisks, some of them of 
extraordinary size. — Ed. 

2 The sculptor who made the two famous colossi of Amenophis III. had the 
same name as his master, Amenhotep. (Brugsch, History^ ist edition, voL L 
pp. 425-6). Iritesen, who worked for Menthouthotep 11. in the time of the first 
Theban Empire, was a worker in stone, gold, silver, ivory, and ebony. He held a 
place, he tells us, at the bottom of the king's heart, and was his joy from morning 
till night (Maspero, la St}le C. \^du Louvre^ in the Transactions of the Society of 
Biblical Archceology, vol. v. part ii. 1877.) 

The Profession of Architect. 


names have been preserved to us in hundreds upon their elaborate 
tombs and inscribed steles. 

We might, then, amuse ourselves by making out a long list of 
Egyptian builders, a list which would extend over several 
thousands of years, from Nefer, of Boulak (Fig. 171 ^), who may 
have built one of the Pyramids, to the 
days of the Ptolemies or of the Roman 
emperors. In the glyptothek at Munich 
there is a beautiful sepulchral statue of 
Bakenkhonsou, who was chief prophet of 
Amen and principal architect of Thebes, 
in the time of Seti I. and Rameses II. 
From certain phrases in the inscription, 
Dev^ria believes that Bakenkhonsou 
built the temple of Gournah.^ In his 
epitaph he boasts of the great offices 
which he had filled and of the favour 
which had been shown to him by his 
sovereign. Every Egyptian museum 
contains some statue and inscription of 
the same kind. Brugsch has proved 
that under the Memphite dynasties the 
architects to the king were sometimes 
recruited among the princes of the blood 
royal, and the texts upon their tombs 
show that they all, or nearly all,* married 
daughters or grand-daughters of Pharaoh, 
and that such a marriage was not looked 
upon as a mesalltaftce. ^ 

Similar evidence is forthcoming in 
connection with the first Theban 

Empire, but it was chiefly under the three great dynasties 
that the post of architect to Pharaoh became one of great 
responsibility, and carried with it g^eat influence and authority. 

Fig. 171. — Limestone statue of the 
architect Nefer, in the Boulak 
Museum. Drawn by Bourgoin. 

1 See Notice des Principaux Monuments exposh dam ie Muske de Boulak^ 1876, 
No. 458. 

2 Deveria, Bakenkhonsou {Revue Arddologiquey new series, vi. p. loi). 

* Brugsch, History of Egypt (English edition), vol. L p. 47. Ti, whose 
splendid tomb has been so often mentioned, was " First Commissioner of Works " 
for the whole of Egypt, as well as "Secretary of State " to Pharaoh. 


178 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

For the building and keeping in repair of the sumptuous 
monuments then erected a great system of administration must 
have been devised, and Thebes, like modern London, must have 
had its " district-surveyors." ^ 

So far as we can tell there was a chief architect, or 
superintendent general of buildings, for the whole kingdom ; his 
title was Overseer of the buildings of Upper and Lower EgyptP" 
For how many scribes and draughtsmen must the offices of 
Bakenkhonsou or of Semnat, the favourite architect of the great 
regent Hatasu, have found employment ? ^ 

Who would not like to know the course of study by which 
the ancient Egyptian builders prepared themselves for the great 
public enterprises which were always going on in their country ? 
We may admit that the methods employed by their engineers 
were much more primitive than it has been the fashion to suppose, 
we may prove that their structures were far from possessing the 
accuracy of plan that distinguishes ours, but yet we cannot deny 
that those who transported and raised the obelisks and colossal 
statues, and those who constructed the hypostyle hall of Karnak, 
or even the pyramids of Gizeh, must have learnt their trade. 
How and where they learnt it we do not know. It is probable 
that they learnt it by practice under a master. Theory cannot 
have held any great part in their teaching. Their system must 
have been composed of a collection of processes and receipts which 
grew in number as the centuries passed away. There is nothing 
in the texts to show that these receipts were the property of any 
close corporation, but heredity is sure to have played an important 
part and to have made them, to some extent, the property of a 
class. Architects were generally the sons of architects. Brugsch 
has given us one genealogical table in which the profession 
descended from father to son for twenty-two generations. By 
help of the inscriptions he traced the family in question from the 

* We have here ventured to take a slight liberty with M. Perrot's local tints. — Ed. 
Paul Pierret (" St^e de SuH et de Har^ archttectes de Tkhbes^^ in the Recueil de 
Travauxy vol. L p. 70), says, " This is said by him who has charge of the works of 
Amen in Southern Ap." Suti-Har says in his turn : "I have the direction of the 
west, he of the east. We are the directors of the great monuments in Ap, in the 
centre of Thebes, the city of Amen." 

* Pierret, Dictionnaire d*Archeologie AgyptUnne^ p. 59. 

3 See Brugsch, History of Egypt^ ist edition, vol. i. p. 302. 

The Profession of Architect. 179 

time of Seti I. to that of Darius the son of Hystaspes. 
But even then he may not have tracked the stream to its source. 
The rule and compass may have entered that family long before 
the time of Seti ; their use may also have continued long after 
the Persian kings had been driven from Egypt, 



§ I. The Origin of Statue-making, 

The art of imitating living forms by means of sculpture was 
no less ancient in Egypt than architecture. We do not mean 
to say that it already existed in those remote ages when the first 
ancestors of the Egyptian people built their mud cabins upon the 
banks of the Nile ; but as soon as their dwellings became 
something more than mere shelters and began to be affected by 
the desire for beauty, the figures of men and animals took a 
considerable place in their decoration. The oldest mastabas that 
have been discovered have bas-reliefs upon their walls and statues 
in their mummy-pits. 

The existence of these statues and their relative perfection 
show that sculpture had advanced with strides no less rapid than 
those of the sister art. It may even be said that its progress had 
been greater than that of architecture. Given the particular kind 
of expressive beauty which formed the ambition of the Egyptian 
sculptor, he produced njasterpieces as early as the time of the 
Pyramid builders. We cannot say as much of the architect. 
The latter showed himself, indeed, a master in the mechanical 
processes of dressing and fixing stone, but the arrangement of 
his buildings was simple, we might say elementary, and many 
centuries had to pass before he had become capable of imagining 
and creating the sumptuous temples of the New Empire, with 
those ample porticos and great hypostyle halls which were the 
culminating achievements of Egyptian architecture. 

In order to explain this curious inequality we need not inquire 
which of the two arts presents the fewest difficulties. It is with 

The Origin of Statue-making. i8i 

nations as with individuals. Some among them succeed with ease 
in matters which embarrass their neighbours. It is a question 
of circumstances, of natural qualifications, and of surroundings. 
Among the Egyptians the progress of sculpture was accelerated 
by that national belief in a posthumous life for the body which 
we have described in connection with their funerary architecture. 
By the existence of this constant and singular belief we may 
explain both the early maturity of Egyptian sculpture and the 
great originality of their most ancient style. 

We have already described the arrangements which were 
necessary to enable the inhabitant of the tomb to resist annihila- 
tion. Those arrangements were of two kinds, a provision of food 
and drink, which had to be constantly renewed, either in fact or by 
the magic multiplication which followed prayer, and a permanent 
support for the ka or double, a support that sho ild fill the place of 
the living body of which it had been deprived by dissolution. 
This support was afforded to some extent by the mummy ; but 
the mummy was liable to be destroyed or to perish by the action 
of time. The Egyptians were led to provide against such a 
catastrophe by the invention of the funerary statue. In the 
climate of Egypt, stone, and even wood, had far better chances 
of duration than the most carefully embalmed body. Statues had 
the additional advantage that they could be multiplied at will. 
There was nothing to prevent ten, twenty, any number of them, 
being placed in a tomb.^ If but one of these images survived all 
the accidents of time, the double would be saved from that 
annihilation to which it would otherwise be condemned. 

Working under the impulse of such an idea, the sculptor could 
not fail to do his best to endow his statue with the characteristic 
features of the original. "It is easy, then, to understand why 
those Egyptian statues which do not represent gods are always 
portraits of some individual, executed with all the precision of 
which the artists were capable. They were not ideal figures to 
which the desire for beauty of line and expression had much 
to say, they were stone bodies, bodies which had to reproduce all 
the individual contours of their flesh-and-blood originals. When the 
latter was ugly, its reproduction had to be ugly also, and ugly in 

* The serdabs of the tomb of Ti contained twenty, only one of which was recovered 
uninjured. Mariette, Notice du Musce de Boulak^ No. 24. 

1 82 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the same way. If these principles were disregarded the double 
would be unable to find the support which was necessary to it.'* ^ 

The first Egyptian statue was not so much a work of art as 
a cast from nature. If photography had been invented in the 
time of Menes, photographers would have made their fortunes 
in Egypt. Those sun-portraits, which are supposed to present a 
perfect resemblance, would have been put in the tomb of a deceased 
man in hundreds. Wanting such things, they were contented to 
copy his figure faithfully in stone or wood. His ordinary attitude, 
his features and costume, were imitated with such scrupulous 
sincerity that the serdabs were filled with faithful duplicates of 
himself. To obtain such a likeness the artist cannot have trusted 
to his memory. His employer must have sat before him, the stone 
body must have been executed in presence of him w^hose immor- 
tality it had to ensure. In no other way could those effigies have 
been produced whose iconic character is obvious at first sight, 
effigies to which a contemporary would have, put a name without 
the slightest hesitation. 

This individuality is not, however, equally well preserved in 
all Egyptian sculpture, a remark which applies to the early 
dynasties as well as to the later ones, though not in the same 
degree. In those early ages the beliefs which led the Egyptian to 
inclose duplicates of his own body in his last resting-place were 
more powerful over his spirit, and the artist had to exert himself 
to satisfy the requirements of his employers in the matter of 
fidelity. Again, those centuries had not to struggle against such an 
accumulation of precedents and fixed habits, in a word, against so 
much conventionality as those which came after. There were no 
formulae, sanctioned by long custom, to relieve the artist from the 
necessity for original thought and continual reference to nature ; he 
was compelled to make himself acquainted both with the general 
features of his race and those of his individual employers. This 
necessity gave him the best possible training. Portraiture taken 
up with intelligence and practised with a passionate desire for 
truth has always been the best school for the formation of masters 
in the plastic arts. 

In those early centuries, then, Egypt, produced a few statues 
which were masterpieces of artistic expression, which were 
admirable portraits. In all countries, however, great works are 

* Maspero, in Rayet's Monuments de PArt Antique. 

The Origin of Statue-making. 183 

rare. The sepulchral statues were far from being all equal in 
value to those of the Sheik-el- Beled, of Ra-Hotep from Meidoum, 
or of the scribe in the Louvre. This intelligent and scientific 
interpretation of nature was not reached at a bound; Egyptian 
sculpture had its archaic period as well as that of Greece. 

Moreover, even when the art had come to maturity, there was, 
as in other countries a crowd of mediocre artists whose work 
was to be obtained at a cost smaller than that of the eminent men 
whom they surrounded. The leading sculptors were fully employed 
by the kings and great lords, by ministers and functionaries of high 
rank : their less able brethren worked for that great class of 
functionaries of the second order, who composed what may be 
called the Egyptian middle class. It is probable too, that, 
although his work was to be hidden in the darkness of the serdab, 
the artist took more care in reproducing the features of a great 
personage whose appearance might be known from one end of the 
Nile valley to the other, than when employed by some com- 
paratively humble individual. Before descending into the tomb, 
the statue must for a time have been open to inspection, and its 
creator must have had the chance of receiving those praises which 
neither poet nor artist has been able to do without, from the days 
of Memphis to those of Modern Europe. 

In most cases, however, he had to reproduce the features and 
contours of some obscure but honest scribe, some insignificant 
unit among the thousands who served Cheops or Chephren ; and 
his conscience was more easily satisfied. If we pass in review 
those limestone figures which are beginning to be comparatively 
common in our museums, we receive the impression that many 
among them bear only a general resemblance to their originals ; 
they preserve the Egyptian type of feature, the individual marks 
of sex and age, the costume, the familiar attitude, and the attributes 
and accessories required by custom, and that is all. It may even 
be that, like a certain category of funerary steles among the Greeks 
of a later age, these inferior works >vere bought in shops ready 
carved and painted, and that the mere inscription of a name wag 
supposed to give them that iconic character upon which so much 
depended. A name indeed is not always found upon these 
images, but it is always carved upon the tombs in which they were 
placed, and its appearance there was sufficient to consecrate the 
statues and all other contents of the sepulchre to the support of 

184 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the double to which it belonged. Whether it was copied from a 
sitter or bought ready-made, the statue became from the moment 
of its consecration an auxiliary body for the double. It preserved 
more of the appearance of life than the corpse saturated with 
mineral essences and hidden under countless bandages ; the half- 
open smiling lips seemed about to speak, and the eyes, to which 
the employment of enamel and polished metal give a singular 
brilliance, seemed instinct with life. 

The first statues produced by the Egyptians were sepulchral in 
character, and in the intentions both of those who made them and 
of those who gave the commissions, they were portraits, executed 
with such fidelity that the double should confidingly attach himself 
te them and not feel that he had been despoiled of his corporeal 
support. As the power and wealth of the Egyptians grew, their 
artistic aspirations grew also. They rose by degrees to the con- 
ception of an ideal, but even when they are most visibly aiming * 
at grandeur of style the origin of their art may still be divined ; in 
their happiest and most noble creations the persistent effect of 
their early habits of thought and belief is still to be surely traced. 

§ 2. Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 

The most ancient monument of sculpture to which we can 
assign, if not a date, at least a chronological place in the list of 
Egyptian kings, is a rock-cut monument in the peninsula of Sinai. 
This is in the Wadi-maghara, and represents Snefrou, the last 
monarch of the third dynasfy, destroying a crouching barbarian 
with his mace. In spite of its historic importance, we refrain 
from producing this bas-relief because its dilapidated state takes 
away its interest from an artistic point of view.^ 

There are, besides, other statues in existence to which egypto- 
logists ascribe a still greater age. The Louvre contains three 
before which the historian of art must halt for a moment. 

Two of these are very much alike, c^nd bear the name of a 
personage called Sepa, who enjoyed the style and dignity of 
prophet and priest of the white bull. The third is the presentment 

All the monuments in the Wadi-maghara are figured in the Denkmaler of 
Lepsius (part ii. plates 2, 39, and 61) ; casts of them have also been made. 


Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 185 

of Nesa, who is called a relation of the king, and was, in all pro- 
bability, the wife of Sepa (Fig. 172). These statues were of soft 
limestone. Both man and woman have black wigs with squared 
ends, which descend, in the case of the former, to the shoulders, 
in that of the latter, to the breasts. Sep.a holds a long staff in 
his left hand, and in his right the sceptre called pat, a sign of 
authority. His only robe is a plain schenti, a kind of cotton 
breeches fastened round his waist by a band. His trunk and legs 
are bare, and the latter are only half freed from the stone in which 
they are carved. Nesa is dressed in a long chemise with a trian- 
gular opening between the breasts. Upon her arms she has 
bracelets composed of twelve rings. In each figure the wig, the 
pupils, eyelids, and eyebrows, are painted black, while there is a 
green stripe under the eyes. The bracelets are also green. 

De Roug6 asserted boldly that these were the oldest statues in 
the world. ^ He believed them to date from the third dynasty, and 
his successors do not think he exaggerated ; they would perhaps 
give the works in question an even more venerable age. 

This impression of great antiquity is not caused by the short 
inscriptions on the plinths. The well-carved hieroglyphs which 
compose them are in" relief, but this peculiarity is found in monu- 
ments of the fourth and fifth dynasties. The physiognomies and 
general style of the figures are much more significant. They 
betray an art whose aims and instincts are well developed, 
although it has not yet mastered its mechanical processes. The 
sculptor knows thoroughly what he wants, but his hand still lacks 
assurance and decision. He has set out upon the way which will 
be trodden with ever-increasing firirfhess by his successors. He 
follows nature faithfully. Observe how frankly the breadth of 
Sepa s shoulders is insisted upon, how clearly the collar-bones and 
the articulations of the knees are marked.. The rounded contours 
of Nesa s thighs betray the same sincerity. And yet there is a 
certaih timidity and awkwardness in the group which becomes 
clearly perceptible when we compare it with works in its neigh- 
bourhood which date from the fifth dynasty. The workmanship 
lacks freedom, and the modelling is over-simplified. The arms, 
which elsewhere are laid upon the knees, or, in the case of the 

* Notice des Monuments exposls dans la Gaterte d'Antiquith AgyptienneSy Salle du 
FeZ'de-chaussi et Palter de TEscalier^ 1S75, p. 26. 


i86 A History of Art in Ancient Egvpt. 

woman, passed round the neck of her husband, are too rigid. 
One is held straight down by the body, the other is bent at a right 
angle across the stomach. The pose is stiff, the placid features 
lack expression and will. 

The induction to which we have been led by the style of these 
figures is confirmed by an observation made during recent explora- 
tions in the necropolis of Memphis. The patch of green paint 
under the eyes has, as yet, only been found in statues from 

Fio. 172. — Sepa and Nesa, Louvre. Four feet eighl [nches high. 

a certain peculiar class of tombs at Gizeh and Sakkarah. These 
are chambers cut in the rock, in which the roofs are carved into 
imitations of timber ceilings of palm wood. Some of the texts 
which have been found in them contain the name of a king whose 
chronological place has not yet been satisfactorily determined, but 
who seems to have been anterior to Snefrou. The figures upon 
which the adornment in question occurs would appear therefore 


Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 187 

to be contemporary with the oldest tombs in the neighbourhood 
of the pyramids.^ 

Progress was rapid between the end of the third dynasty and 
that of the fourth. It was during the latter dynasty that the art 
of the Ancient Empire produced its masterpieces. Mariette 
attributes the two famous statues found in a tomb near the 
pyramid of Meidoum to the reign of Snefrou, the predecessor of 
Cheops. They are exhibited, under glass, in the Boulak Museum 
(Plate IX).2 

" One of them represents Ra-hotep, a prince of the blood, who 
enjoyed the dignity of general of infantry, a very rare title under 
the Ancient Empire ; the other is a woman, Nefert, Hie beauty ; 
her statue also informs us that she was related to the king. We 
do not know whether she was the wife or sister of Ra-hotep. The 
interest excited by the extreme beauty of these figures is increased 
by our certainty of their prodigious antiquity. In the mastaba 
where they were found everything is frankly archaic, everything is 
as old as the oldest of the tombs at Sakkarah, and those date from 
before the fourth dynasty. A neighbouring tomb which, as is 
proved by the connection between their structures, dates from the 
same period as that of Ra-hotep, is that of a functionary attached 
to the person of Snefrou I. We may, therefore, fairly assign the 
two statues from Meidoum to the last reign of the third dynasty." ^ 

Each of these figures, with its chair-shaped seat, is carved from 
a single block of limestone about four feet high. The man is 
almost nude ; his only dress is a ribbon about his neck, and white 
breeches like those to which we have already alluded. The woman 
is robed in the long chemise, open between the breasts, which we 
have seen upon Nesa. Besides this a wide and richly designed 
necklace spreads over her chest. Upon her head she has a 
square-cut black wig, which, however, allows her natural hair to 
be visible in front. Over the wig she has a low flat cap with a 
decorated border. The carnations of the man are brownish red, 
those of the woman light yellow. 

^ The Boulak Museum also contains specimens of these figures. See Notice^ 
Nos. 994 and 995. 

* Notice des principaux Monuments exposh d Boulak, No. 973. These figures 
were discovered in January, 1872. They had a narrow escape of being destroyed 
by the pickaxes of the superstitious fellaheen. Mariette fortunately arrived just in 
time to prevent the outrage. Recueil de Travaux, vol. i. p. 160. 

' Mariette, Voyage dans la Haute-Jtgypte, p. 47. 

i88 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

These statues betray an art much more advanced than that of 
Sepa and Nesa. The pose is much easier and more natural, but 
the right arm of Ra-hotep is stiff and held in a fashion which 
would soon cause cramp in a living man. The modelling of 
the body is free and true, though without much knowledge or 
subtlety. The breasts, arms, and legs of Nefert are skilfully 
suggested under her robe. But the care of the sculptor has been 
mainly given to the heads. By means of chisel and paint-brush 
he has given them an individuality which is not readily forgotten. 
The arched eyebrows surmount large well-opened eyes ; the eye- 
lids seem to be edged with heavy lashes and to stand out well 
from the eyeball. In the case of the latter the limestone has 
retained its primitive whiteness, giving a strong contrast with the 
pupil and Iris {Fig. 173). The noses, especially that of Ra- 
hotep are fine and pointed ; the thick but well-drawn lips seem 
about to speak. Her smooth cheeks and soft 
dark eyes, eyes which are still common among 
the women of the East, give Nefert a very 
attractive look. Her smiling and restful coun- 
tenance is in strong contrast to that of Ra-hotep, 
which is full of life and animation not unmingled 
with a little hardness. 

The longer we look at these figures the less 
ready are we to turn away from them. They 
are portraits, and portraits of marvellous sin- 
cerity. If they could be gifted with life to-morrow, 
if we could encounter Ra-hotep and Nefert working under the 
sun of Egypt, the man semi-nude, sowing the grain or helping 
to make an embankment, his companion robed in the long blue 
chemise of the fellah women and balancing a pitcher upon her 
head, we should know them at once and salute them by name as 
old acquaintances. We find none of the marks of inexperience 
and archaism which are so conspicuous in the statues of Sepa 
and Nesa. A few later figures may seem to us more delicately 
modelled and more full of detail, but taking them all in all, we 
cannot look upon these statues as other than the creations of a 
mature art, of an art which was already in full command of its 
resources, and of a sculptor who had a well-marked personal and 
original style of his own. 

We find the same qualities in another group of monuments 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 189 

ascribed by Mariette to no less remote a period.^ The same eye 
for proportion, the same life-like expression, the same frankness 
and confidence of hand are to be found in those sculptured 
wooden panels of which the museum at Boulak possesses four 
fine examples. They were found at Sakkarah in the tomb of a 
personage called Hosi, where they were enframed in four blind 
doorways. They are on the average about 3 feet 10 inches high 
and I foot 8 inches wide. The drawings which we reproduce 
give a good idea of the peculiarities of style and execution by 
which they are distinguished (Figs. 174-176).^ 

At first sight these carvings are a little embarrassing to the eye 
accustomed to works in stone. The type of figure presented is 
less thickset. The body, instead of being muscular, is nervous 
and wiry. The arms and legs are thin and long. In the head 
especially do we find unaccustomed features ; the nose, instead of 
being round, is strongly aquiline ; the lips, instead of being thick 
and fleshy, as in almost all other Egyptian heads, are thin and 
compressed. The profile is strongly marked and rather severe. 
The general type is Semitic rather than Egyptian. And yet the 
inscriptions which surround them prove that the originals were 
pure Egyptians of the highest class. One of them, he who is re- 
presented standing in two different attitudes, is Ra-hesi ; the other, 
who is sitting before a table of offerings, bears the name of Pekh- 
hesi. The decipherable part of the inscription tells us that he 
was a scribe, highly placed, and in great favour with the king. 

The tomb in which these panels were found was not built on 
the usual plan of the mastaba. Mariette alludes to certain pecu- 
liarities which are to be found in it, but he does not describe them 
in detail. The hieroglyphs are grouped in a peculiar fashion ; 
many of them are of a very uncommon form. The arrangement 
of the objects borne in the left hand of Ra-hesi is quite unique. 
Struck by these singularities, Mariette asserts that " the style of 
these panels is to Egyptian art what the style called archaic is to 
that of Greece."^ This assertion seems to us inaccurate. Not 

^ " According to all appearance these panels date from before the reign of Cheops." 
Notices desprinctpaux Monuments j etc. Nos. 987-92. 

^ There is a panel of the same kind in the Louvre {Salle Historiquey No. i of 
Pierret's Catalogue)^ but it is neither so firm, nor in such good preservation as those 
at Cairo. 

' Mariette, La Galerie de TAgypte Ancienne au Trocadiro^ 1878, p. 122. 

190 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

that we mean to contest the validity of the reasons which Mariette 
gives for ascribing these panels to an epoch anterior to the 
great pyramids ; but, whatever may be their age, it seems to be 
impossible, in view of the style in which they are executed, to call 
them archaic. They show no more archaism than the statues of 
Meidoum. The Egyptian artist never carved wood with greater 
decision or with more subtlety and finesse than are to be seen in 
these panels. As for the differences of execution which have 
been noticed between these figures and the stone statues of the 
same epoch, they may easily be explained by the change of 
material and by the Egyptian love fqr fidelity of imitation. 
Wood is not attacked in the same fashion as soft stone. Its 
constitution does not lend itself to the ample and rounded forms 
of lapidary sculpture. It demands, especially when a low relief 
is used, a ipore delicate and subtle modelling. Again, these were 
portraits ; all the Egyptians were not like one another^ especially 
in that primitive Egypt in which perhaps various races had not 
yet been blended into a homogeneous population. Among the 
contemporaries of Cheops, as in our day, there were fat people 
and thin people. Men who were tall and slender, and men who 
were short and thickset. Countenances varied both in features 
and expression.^ In time art succeeded in evolving from all these 
diversities a type of Egyptian manhood and beauty. As the ages 
passed away the influence of that type became more and more 
despotic. It became almost universal, except in those cases where 
there was a rigid obligation to reproduce the personal characteristics 
of an individual with fidelity. But at the end of the third 
dynasty that consummation was still far off. And we need feel 
no surprise that the higher we mount in the stream of Egyptian 
civilization the more particular are the concrete images which it 
offers to us, and the more striking the variation between one work 
of art and another. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the features which we 
have mentioned as peculiar in the cases of Ra-hesi and Pekh-hesi 
are not to be found elsewhere. If we examine the profile of Nefert, 
still more that of Ra-hotep, we shall find that they also have the 

* Thus we find in a tomb which, according to Lepsius, dates from the fourth 
dynasty, certain thickset sculptured forms, which contrast strongly with figures 
taken from mastabas in the same neighbourhood, at Gizeh. The body is short, 
the legs heavy and massive. Lepsius, Denkmaler^ part ii. pi. 9. 

Fig. 174. — Wnoden panel from Ibe Tomb of Hou. Drawn bjr Bourgoin. 

192 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

sloping forehead and aquiline nose. The body of Ra-hotep is 
rounder and fatter than those in the wooden reliefs, but the lines 
of his countenance have a strong resemblance to those which 
have excited remark in the figures on the panels. 

In the case of a limestone head, covered with red paint, which 
stands in the SaUe Civile^ in the Louvre, the cranium is no less 
elongated, the cheekbones are no less large, the cheeks themselves 
are as hollow, the chin as protuberant, and the whole head as bony 
and fleshless. We do not know whence it came, but we have no 
hesitation in agreeing with De Rouge, Mariette, and Maspero, that 
this head is a masterpiece from one of the early dynasties. It may 
be put by the side of the Meidoum couple for its vitality and 
individual expression. The unknown original must have been ugly 
almost to vulgarity, but it rouses in the spectator the same kind 
of admiration as a Tuscan bust of the fifteenth century, and a 
pleasure which is not diminished by the knowledge that the man 
whose faithful image is under his eyes passed from the world some 
five or six thousand years ago (Fig. 177). 

The little figure which occupies the place of honour in this same 
saloon (Plate X.), though more famous, is hardly superior to the 
fragment just described. It was found by Mariette in the tomb 
of Sekhem-ka, during his excavation of the Serapeum. Other 
figures of the same kind were found with it, but are hardly equal 
to it in merit. They are believed to date from the fifth or sixth 

This scribe is seated, cross-legged, in an attitude still familiar to 
those who have visited the East The most superficial visitor to 
the Levant must have seen, in the audience-hall of the cadi or 
pacha, the kiatib crouching exactly in the same fashion before the 
chair or divan, registering sentences with his rapid kaleniy or 
writing out despatches. Our scribe is listening ; his thin and bony 
features are vibrating with intelligence ; his black eye-balls posi- 
tively sparkle; his mouth is only closed because respect keeps 
him silent. His shoulders are high and square, his chest ample, 
his pectoral muscles very large. People who follow a very seden- 
tary occupation generally put on much fat on the front of their 
bodies, and this scribe is no exception to the rule. His arms are 
free of his sides ; their position is easy and natural. One hand 
holds a strip of papyrus upon which he writes with the other, his 
pen being a reed. The lower parts of the body and the thighs 

194 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

are covered with a pair of drawers, whose white colour contrasts 
with the brownish red of the carnations. The breadth and truth 

^ with which the knee-joints are indicated should be remarked. The 

only details that have, to a certain extent, been " scamped," are the 
feet. Trusting to their being half hidden by the folded legs, the 
sculptor has left them in a very rudimentary condition. 

The eyes form the most striking feature in this figure. " They 
consist of an iris of rock crystal surrounding a metal pupil, and 
set in an eyeball of opaque white quartz. The whole is framed 
in continuous eyelids of bronze." ^ 

This clever contrivance gives singular vitality and animation to 
the face. Even the Grecian sculptor never produced anything 
so vivacious. The latter, indeed began by renouncing all attempts 
to imitate the depth and brilliancy of the human eye. His point 

1 of departure differed entirely from that of his Memphite predecessor; 

his conception of his aft led him, where the Egyptian would have 
used colour, to be content with the general characteristics of form 
and with its elevation to the highest pitch of nobility of which 
it was capable. This is not the place for a comparison of the 
two systems, but accepting the principles of art which prevailed 
in early Egypt, we must do justice to those masters who were 
contemporary with the Pyramids. It must be acknowledged 
that they produced works which are not to be surpassed in their 
way by the greatest portraits of modern Europe. In later years 
the Egyptian sculptor ceased to paint the eyes. Even in the 
time of the Ancient Empire the Egyptian custom in this particular 
was the same as the Greek, so far as statues in hard stone were 
concerned. The great statue of Chephren is an instance. In it 
the chisel has merely reproduced the contours of the eyelids and 
the salience of the eyeball. No attempt has been made to imitate 
the iris or to give brightness to the pupil. In none of the royal 
statues that have come down to our time do we find any effort 
to produce this kind of illusion, either by the use of paint or by 
the insertion of naturally coloured substances. 

There is a statue at Boulak which may, perhaps, be preferred 
even to the scribe of the Louvre. We have already alluded to 
it as the Sheik- el- Beled (Fig. 7, Vol. I.). In its present state (it 
is without either feet or base) it has no inscription but it is 
sometimes called R^-em-k6, because that was the name of the 

* De Rouge, Notice sommaire des Monuments ^gvptienSy 1865, p. 68. 

Fig. 176.— Wooden panel from the Tomb of Hosi. Drawn by Bon^oin 

196 A HisTORV OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

person in whose tomb it was found. It is of wood, and, with the 

exception of its lower members, is in marvellous preservation. 

The eyes are similar to those of the scribe, and seem to be fixed 

upon the spectator while their owner advances upon him. The 

type is very different from those we have hitherto been j 

describing. The face Is round and flat, and so is the trunk. 

Fio. 177. — Limestone head, in the Louvre, Drawn by Sainl-Elme Gautier. 

The smiling good humour of the expression and the embonpoint 
of the person indicate a man well nourished and comfortably off, 
a man content both with himself and his neighbours.' 

1 Another wooden statue of equal merit as a work of art was found in the same 
tomb. It represents a woman, standing. .Unfortunately there is nothing left of it 
but the head and the torsa Notice des prinripaux Monuments du Musee de 
Bouiak, No. 493. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 197 

This statue is dressed in a different fashion from those we 
have hitherto encountered. The sheik has his hips covered with 
a kind of petticoat gathered into pleats in front. His legs, torso, 
and arms are bare. The last named are of separate pieces of 
wood, and one of them, the bent one, is made in two parts. 
When the statue was first finished the joints were invisible. 
The whole body was covered with fine linen, like a skin. Upon 
this linen a thin layer of plaster was spread, by means of which, 
when wet, refinement could be added to the contours by the 
modelling stick ; the colours of nature were afterwards added by 
the brush. Such figures as these have therefore come down to 
us in a condition which resembles their primitive state much less 
than that of the works in stone. They have, so to speak, lost 
their epidermis, and with it the colours which served to distinguish 
the flesh from the drapery.^ 

It would seem that the sculptor in wood often counted upon 
this final coat of stucco to perfect his modelling. There are in 
fact wooden statues which seem to have been but roughly blocked 
out by the chisel. There are three figures in the Louvre in which 
this character is very conspicuous. The largest of the three is 
reproduced in our Fig. 1 78.^ Acacia and sycamore wood is used 
for this kind of work.* 

Finally, in this epoch or perhaps a little later, under the fifth 
and sixth dynasties, funerary statues were cast in bronze. This 
notable fact was first proclaimed by M. de Longperier. We 
quote the observations which he addressed to the Academy of 

** The fact that bronze was employed in Egypt in very ancient 

* The Description de PAgypte {Antiquites^ vol v. p. 33) gives the details of a 
mummy-mask in sycamore wood, of fairly good workmanship, which was found at 
Sakkarah. The eyebrows and edges of the eyelids were outlined with red copper; 
a fine linen was stretched over the wood ; over this there was a thin layer of stucco, 
upon which the face was painted in green. 

* The figure in the Louvre is split deeply in several places, one of the fissures 
being down the middle of the face. This latter our artist has suppressed, so as to 
give the figure something of its ancient aspect. These fissures are sure to appear 
in our humid climate. The warm and dry air of Egypt is absolutely necessary for 
the preservation of such works, which seem doomed to rapid destruction in our 
European museums. 

* Maspero {Journal Asiatigue, March- April, 1880), Sur quelques Feintures 
FunkraireSy p. 137. See also Brugsch, Die Egyptische Graberwelty No. 87. 

* Comptes Rendus de VAcadhnie des Inscriptions^ 1875, P- 345- 

igS A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

times has long been ascertained. The knob from the Sceptre 
of Papi, a Pharaoh of the sixth dynasty, which exists in the 
British Museum, is enough to prove this fact. M. Chabas has 
called our attention to the fact that bronze is mentioned in texts 

Fig. 178,— Wooden < 

which date from a period anterior to the construction of the 
great Pyramids.* 

" That the earhest Egyptian bronzes representing the human 

• CHkKAS, Sur r Usage des BStons de Main, \>. 12. (Lyons, 8 vo, 1875) 

Fig. 179.— Bronze slatueltc. Two feel two inches liigb, Dninnbj Saint-Elme Canlier. 


200 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

figure are much older than was formerly thought, is proved by t'wo 
statuettes belonging to M. Gustave Posno. One of these is 
twenty-six inches high, the other nineteen. They merit a short 
description : "No i : A man standing ; left foot forward, the left 
hand closed and raised to a level with the breast. This hand, 
doubtless, held a spear. The right hand which hangs straig-ht 
down by the thigh formerly clasped, in all probability, the small 
sceptre which is represented in many bas-reliefs. The loins are 
girt with the garment called the schenti, the band of which 
supports a dagger. The hair is arranged into regular rows 
of small square knobs. The eyes and eyebrows, which were 
inlaid, have disappeared (Fig. 179)/*^ 

*' No 2 : A man standing ; his loins girt with the schenti, his 
left foot forward, his right hand raised to the level of his breast, 
the left hanging by his left thigh. The inlaid eyes and eyebrows 
have been abstracted. His hair, which is less abundant than that 
of his companion and allows the contour of his head to be easily 
seen, is arranged into very small knobs. A vertical inscription 
on the left side of his chest gives the name of the personage, 
in or after which appears the ethnic SckasoUy which seems to 
indicate an Oriental origin. The Schasous are mentioned in 
several Egyptian texts and seem to have occupied the country 
which bordered Egypt on the- North- East (Fig. 180)." ^ 

*Mn these two statuettes the muscles of the arms and legs, 
and the articulation of the knees, are expressed with a care and 
truth which denote a very remote age. We cannot fail to 
recognize a phase of art earlier than the Second Empire. But if 
the first mentioned figure recalls, by its features and the manage- 
ment of the hair, the sculptures in stone of the fifth and sixth 
dynasties, the second cannot, perhaps, be referred to quite such an 
early period. In the latter the vertical line of the back and right 
leg slopes slightly forward, betraying an attempt to express 
movement ; the dorsal line of the first figure is, on the other hand, 
quite perpendicular. 

" Even in the photographs certain details are visible, such as 
the form of the hair, the features, the rendering of the anatomical 
contours, which denote a school anterior to that of the eighteenth 

* Catalogue of the Posno Collection, No. 468. 
Jbid,y No. 524, 


Fifi. iSo.— Broniesi 

II iiichfs high. Drawn by Saint-Klme G«ulier. 

202 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

" Egypt, then, was first in the field in bronze casting, as she 
was in stone and wood carving. One at least of the Posno 
statuettes carries us so far back in the history of humanity that it is 
difficult to see where we can look for earlier works of art, especially 
of so advanced a style. We have already ascertained that the first 
named of these two figures is far superior, both in style and 
modelling, to the Asiatic canephorus of AfadjV a work which 
was dedicated to a goddess by a king, and must therefore be 
considered a good example of the art of Western Asia." 

We agree with M. de Longperier in all but one point, and that 
one as to which he is careful not to commit himself. According to 
him the second figure is later than the sixth dynasty and earlier 
than the eighteenth, so that it would belong to the first Theban 
Empire. But we do not see why, supposing the Egyptians of 
the Ancient Empire capable of making the first figure, they should 
not have made the second. Between the two statuettes there 
are but slight differences of handling, differences much the same 
as those to be found in the wooden and stone statues which we 
have already mentioned. Neither the artists nor their sitters 
had quite the same capabilities. 

The technical skill shown in these bronzes is extraordinary. 
The most ancient Etruscan and Greek bronzes are solid castings, 
on the base of which are rough protuberances, sometimes of 
considerable length, resulting from the fact that the metal was 
allowed to solidify in the orifice by which it was poured into the 
mould. Here there is nothing of the kind. No imperfection in 
the mechanical part of the work is allowed to interfere with its 
artistic effect. The casting is light, hollow, and in one piece ; 
the method employed must have been excellent in itself and 
thoroughly understood.'^ They also understood how to add finish 
by chasing the metal after its relief from the mould. The small 
circular ornaments on the chest of the second figure, ornaments 
which are so delicate in execution that they could not be re- 
produced in our engraving without giving them too much 

^ De Longperier, Musk Napolhn III, pi. i. 

' M. Pisani, who mounted the numerous bronzes in M. Posno's collection, 
assures me that their insides are still filled with the core of sand around which they 
were cast. The outward details of the casting are repeated inside, showing that 
the method used was what we call fonte an carton. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 203 

importance, and the hieroglyphs cut in the same figure, are 
instances of this. 

That so few bronze statuettes have come down to us seems 
to^ show that the use of the metal by sculptors was quite 
exceptional. They used wood far more than bronze, and stone 
more than wood. Most of the sepulchral statues are cut in soft 
limestone (see Figs. 6, 49, 88, 89, Vol. I., and Fig. 172, Vol. II.). 
Sometimes these statues are isolated, sometimes they form family 
groups, often consisting of father, mother, and children. 

Statues of men are the most numerous. Differences between 
one and another are many and frequent, but they are, on the 
whole, less striking than the points of resemblance. Here we 
find a head bare, there enveloped in either a square or rounded 
wig. The bodies are never completely nude, and the garment 
which covers their middles is arranged in a variety of ways. 
Fashions, both for men and women, seem to have changed in 
Egypt as elsewhere. In the statues ascribed to the last dynasties 
of the Ancient Empire the national type seems more fixed and 
accentuated than in earlier works. These funerary statues are the 
portraits of vigorous and powerful men, with broad shoulders, well- 
developed pectoral muscles, thin flanks and muscular legs. Ra- 
nefer, priest of Ptah and Sokar, stands upright, his arms by his 
sides, and each hand grasping a roll of papyrus (Fig 181).^ A 
dagger is passed through the belt of his drawers. 

The person represented in Fig. 182 is distinguished from 
Ra-nefer by the fashion in which he w^ears his hair and by his 
costume. His loose skirt is arranged in front so as to form a 
kind of triangular apron. This peculiar fall of the garment was 
obtained by the use of starch and an instrument similar to our 
flat-iron. It is better seen in the statue of Ti, the great personage 
to whose gorgeous tomb we have so often referred.^ The 
Albanians obtain the curious folds of their kilts in the same 
fashion.^ Ti wears a periwig of a different kind from that of 

* A sketch of this statue also appears on page 10, Vol. I. Fig. 6 ; but as, accord- 
ing to Mariette, it is one of the best statues in the Boulak Museum, we have thought 
well to give it a second illustration, which, in spite of its smaller scale, shows the 
modelling better than the first. 

* Notice des principaux Monuments du Musee de Boulak^ No. 24, 

* Wooden instruments have been found which were used for the pleating of linen 
stuffs. One of these, which is now in the museum of Florence, is figured in 
Wilkinson {Manners and Customs^ vol. i. p. 185). The heavy and symmetrical 

204 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Ra-nefer. The Egyptians shaved their heads from motives 
of cleanliness. The priests were compelled to do so by the 
rules of their religion, which made purity of person even more 
imperative upon them than upon the laymen, it was necessary, 
however, that the head should be thoroughly protected from the 
sun, hence the wig. The shaved Mohammedans of our day 
replace the periwig with the turban. 



Fig. iSi. — Ra-nefer. Boulak. Drawn by Baurguiii. 

One wooden statue at Boulak offers a variety of costume which 
is at present unique among the remains of Egyptian civilization. 
It is, unfortunately, in very bad preservation. It represents a 
man, standing, and draped in an ample robe which covers him 

Tolds which are thus obtained are found, as we shall see, in the drapery of Greek 
statues of the archaic period. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 205 

from head to foot. His right arm is free; it is held across the 
body, and meets the left hand, which is thrust through an opening 
in the robe. The place where this statue was found, the material 
of -which it consists, and the character of the workmanship, all 
combine to prove that it is a production of the early dynasties 
(Fig. i84).> 

A few kneeling statues have also been found. The anonymous 
personage whose portrait is reproduced in Fig. 185 is upon his 
knees. His clasped hands rest upon his thighs. His eyes are 
inlaid ; they are formed of numerous small pieces skilfully put 

There is no less variety in those groups where the sculptor has 
' Notice dti Musk de Boulak, No. 770. ' Ibid., No. 769. 

2o6 A History of Art in Ancient Egvpt. 

been chained to represent a whole family reuniled in the tomb. 
Sometimes the husband is sitting and the wife standing. She has 
her left arm round his neck, the left hand resting on his left 
shoulder, while with her right hand she holds his right arm 
(Fig. 88, Vol. I.). Sometimes a father and mother are seated 
upon the same bench, but here too the woman confesses her de- 
pendence on, and shows her confidence in, her master by the same 

affectionate gesture (Fig. 186). Both are of the same height, but 
between them, and leaning against the bench upon which they are 
seated, appears their child, quite small. His gesture is that to 
which the Egyptian artist has recourse when he wishes to express 
early childhood (Fig. 187). We also find the husband and wife 
standing erect in front of a slab ; the relation which they bear to 
each other is here also indicated by the position of the woman's 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 207 

arms (Fig. r88).^ Sometimes the woman is altogether absent 
(Fig.'Sg, Vol. I.). The head of the family is placed by himself, on 
a raised seat. In front of this seat, and hardly reaching to their 
father's knees, are two children, boy and girl, the boy holding the 
right leg, the girl the left. The boy has the lock of hair pendent 

over the right ear, which, like the finger in the mouth, is a sign of 
tender years. He is nude ; the girl is dressed in an ornamental robe 
reaching to her ankles. There is a piquant contrast between these 
two tender little bodies with their childish heads, and the virile 
power of the father and protector who towers so high above them. 

' Noticf, No. 793, These Iwo people were called Nefer-hotep and Tenteta. 
The latter is also described as relaitd to Pharaoh. 

2o8 A History of Art in Akcient Egypt. 

These limestone groups do not, as a rule, appear to have been 
executed with any great care. Their makers do not seem to have 
taken much pains to give them an individuality of their own ; but 
in spite of this feebleness of execution, they please by their 


. i&S.— Nefer-hotFp and Tcntela. 

composition. They are well arranged, their attitudes are simple 
and their gestures expressive. As a whole they have an air of 
calmness and repose which is thoroughly in accord with the ideas 
of the Egyptians on the question of life and death. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 


From the same memphite tombs many limestone statues have 
been recovered, representing, not the defunct himself, but those 
who mourn his decease and the crowd of retainers attached 
to his person. All these are expected to carry on their labours for 

Fig. 189. — Limestone statue, Boolak. 
Drawn bj Boorgoin. 

his benefit and to be ready to satisfy his wants through all 
eternity. Here we find one seated upon the ground, his hand 
upon his head in sign of grief (Fig. 189).^ There a young man, 
completely naked, advancing with a sack upon his left shoulder 
which falls down to the centre of his back. He carries a bouquet 

' Notice du Musit de Boulak, Na 768. 

A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of flowers in his right hand {Fig. 190).' A man seated upon the 
ground holds a vase between his knees, into which he has plunged 
his right hand (Fig. 191).' Another bends over a wide-mouthed 
jar of mortar in which he is mixing flour and water (Fig. 192), A 
young woman, in a similar attitude, is occupied over the same 
task (Fig. 193). Other women are rolling the paste thus obtained 
on a plank, or rather upon a stone slab, before which they kneel 
upon the ground. The muscular exertion necessary for the 
operation is rendered with great skill (Figs. 193 and 194).* Women 
are still to be encountered at Elephantine and in Nubia, wearing 

the same head-dress and carrying out the same operation in the 
same attitude and with exactly similar utensils. We reproduce 
two sketches by M. Bourgoin, which show the details of this head- 
covering, which, among the women of the lower orders, supplied the 
piece of the wig ; it consists of a piece of stuff held upon the head 
by a ribbon knotted at the back of the neck (Figs. 196 and 197). 

' Notice, No. 771. This is the person represented in profile in Fig. 47, Vol. I. 

' Notice, No. 766. 

' The four.last quoted figures belong to the series noticed in the Boulak Catalogue 
under numbers 757 to 764. The statue reproduced in Fig. 197 has been already 
shown in profile in Fig. 48, Vol. I. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 

21 I 

Mariette brought all these figures to Paris in 1878, where they 
excited the greatest interest among artists and archaeologists. 
They were eminently well fitted to enlighten those who are able 
to see and to do away with many rooted prejudices. What an 
abyss of difference they showed between Egyptian art as it used to 
be defined some thirty years ago and the reality. The stiffness 
and rigidity which used to be so universally attributed to the pro- 
ductions of the sculptors of Memphis and Thebes, were forgotten 

Fig. 193. — Woocan l^neading dougb, Boulak. Drawn by Bourgoin. 

before their varied motives and free natural attitudes. The whole of 
these works, in fact, are imbued with a spirit which is diametrically 
opposed to the unchanging inflexibility which used to be con- 
sidered the chief characteristic of Egyptian art. They are 
distinguished by an extraordinary ease of attitude, and by that 
curious elasticity of body which still remains one of the most 
conspicuous physical qualities of the race. 

" The suppleness of body which distinguished the female fellah 

212 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

is marvellous. She rarely sits down. When she requires rest 
she crouches with her knees in the air in an attitude which 
we should find singularly fatiguing. So too with the men. Their 
habitual posture corresponds to that shown on the steles : the 
knees drawn up in front of the face to the height of the nose, or 
on each side of the head and level with the ears. These attitudes 
are not graceful, but when the bodies thus drawn tt^ether are 
raised to their full height they are superb. They are, to borrow 
a happy expression of Fromentin, ' at once awkward and magni- 
ficent ; when crouching and at rest they look like monkeys ; when 
they stand up they are living statues.' " ' 



Fig. 194. — Woman making bread, Boulak. Drawn by Bonrg<Mn. 

This early art never carried its powers of observation and its 
exactitude of reproduction farther than in the statue of Nem-hotep, 
which we show in full-face and profile in Figs. 198 and 199. 
Whether we call him, with Mariette, a cook, or, with Maspero, a 
master of the wardrobe or keeper of perfumes, it cannot be doubted 
that Nem-hotep was a person of importance. One of the fine 
tombs at Sakkarah was his. He certainly did not make his way 
' Gabriel Charmes, Cin^ mot's au Caire, p. 96. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 


at court by the graces of his person. He was a dwarf with all the 
characteristics that distinguish those unlucky beings. His head 
was too large, his torso very long, his arms and legs very short ; 
besides which he was marvellously dolichocephalu. 

Fig. 195. — Bread maker, Boukb. Drawn by Boorgoln. 

The sincerity of Egyptian art is conspicuously shown in its 
treatment of the foot. Winckelmann noticed that the feet in 
Egyptian statues were larger and flatter than in those of Greece. 

Figs. 196, 197.— Details of head-dfessea. 

The great toes are straight, no articulations being shown. The 
second toe is always the longest, and the little toe is not bent in 
the middle but straight like the others. These peculiarities spring 
from the Egyptian habit of walking bare-foot on the Nile 

314 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

mud ; they are very strongly marked in the feet of the modern 

The general characteristics of these works in the round are ' 
repeated in the bas-reliefs of the mastabas at Gizeh and Sakkarah. 
Of these we have already given numerous illustrations ; we shall 
therefore be content with reproducing one or two which are more 
fhan usually conspicuous for their artistic merit. 

Figs. 198, 199. — Nem-botep ; linKsIcme statue at Boulik, 

The sculptures of Wadi-maghara and the wooden panels from 
the Tomb of Hosi are enough to prove that work in relief was 
as old in Egypt as work in the round. In the mastabas sculptures 
in low-relief served to multiply the images of the defunct He is 
figured upon the steles which occupy the principal wall, as well as 
in various other parts of the tomb. Sometimes he is shown seated 
' Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol, ii. p. 270. 


1 1^' l^KoT"TT#Jiis«^£l 

J^.-lt »^k&ot/ 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 


before the tabje of offerings (Fig. 200), sometimes standing upright 
(Figs. 57 and 1 20, Vol. I.). But the sculptor did not restrict himself 
to these two motives. In the preparation and presentation of the 
funeral gifts he found many themes, to which he was able to give 
more or less development according to the space at his command. 
Even in the earliest attempts that have come down to us, the 
Egyptian sculptor shows a complete grasp of the peculiar features 
of the domesticated animals of the country. Men accustomed to 
the careful study of the human figure could make light of render- 
ing those of beasts, with their more striking distinctions between 
one species and another. In the time when the oldest existing 
tombs were constructed, the ass was already domesticated in 
Egypt. Then as now, he was the most indispensable of the 

Fig 201. — Bas-relief from the Tomb of Ti, Sakkarah. 

servants of mankind. There were, in all probability, as many 
dbnkeys in the streets of Memphis under Cheops as there are now 
in Cairo under Tewfik. Upon the walls of the mastabas we see 
them trotting in droves under the cries and sticks of their drivers 
(Fig. 201), we see the foals, with their awkward gait and long 
pricked ears, walking by the sides of their mothers (Fig. 202), the 
latter are heavily laden and drag their steps ; the drivers brandish 
their heavy sticks, but threaten their patient brutes much oftener 
than they strike them. This is still the habit of those donkey 
boys, who, upon the Esbekieh, naively offer you " M. de Lesseps 
donkey." The bas-relief to which we are alluding consists only of 
a slight outline, but that outline is so accurate and full of character, 
that we have no difficulty in identifying the ass of Egypt, with his 
graceful carriage of the head and easy, brisk, and dainty motion. 


F F 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The same artists have figured another of the companions of man 
with equal fidelity; namely, the deep-sided, long-tailed, long-horned, 
Egyptian ox. Sometimes he lies upon the earth, ruminating 
(Fig. 29, Vol. I.) ; sometimes he is driven between two peasants, the 
one leading him by a rope, the other bringing up the rear with a 
stick held in readiness against any outburst of self-will (Fig. 203). In 
another relief we see a drove advancing by the side of a canal, 
upon which a boat with three men is making way by means of pole 
and paddle. One herdsman walks in front of the oxen, another 
marches behind and urges them on by voice and gesture (Fig. 204). 
In another place we find a cow being milked by a crouching 
herdsman. She seems to lend herself to the operation in the 

Fig. 202. — Bas-relief from the Tomb of Ti, Sakkarah. 

most docile manner in the world, and we are inclined to wonder 
what need there is of a second herdsman who sits before her nose 
and holds one of her legs in both his hands. The precaution, 
however, may not be superfluous, an ox-fly might sting her into 
sudden movement, and then if there was no one at hand to 
restrain her, the milk, which already nears the summit of the pail, 
might be lost (Fig. 30, Vol. I.). 

By careful selection from the sepulchral bas-reliefs, we might, 
if we chose, present to our readers reproductions of the whole 
fauna of Ancient Egypt, the lion, hyena, leopard, jackal, fox, 
wolf, ibex, gazelle, the hare, the porcupine, the crocodile, the 
hippopotamus, the diff-erent fishes in the Nile, the birds in the 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 219 

marshes, the flamingo, the ibis, duck, stork, crane, and goose, the 
dog and the cat, the goat and the pig. Everywhere we find the 
same aptitude for summarizing the distinctive characteristics of 

Fic. 203. — Sepulchral bas-relief, Boulak. 

a species. This accuracy of observation has been recognized 
by every connoisseur who has treated the subject. "In the 
Boulak Museum," says M. Gabriel Charmes. " there is a row 

1 ^vAaVt/j^ ?in| 

Fig. 204, — Bas-relief from the Tomb of Ra-ka-pou, Boulak. 

of Nile geese painted with such precision, that I have seen a 
naturalist stand amazed at their truth to nature and the fidelity 
with which they reproduce the features of the race. Their 

2 20 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

colours, too, are as bright and uninjured as upon the day when 
they were last touched by the brush of the artist" ^ 

The figures of men and animals to which our attention has been 
given all belong to the domain of portraiture. The artist imitates 
the forms of those who sit to him and of the animals of the 
country ; he copies the incidents of the daily life about him, but his 
ambition goes no farther. All art is a translation, an interpretation, 
and, of course, the sculptors of the mastabas had their own 
individual ways of looking at their models. But they made no 
conscious effort to add anything to them, they did not attempt to 
select, to give one feature predominance over another, or to 
combine various features in different proportions from those found 
in ordinary life, and by such means to produce something better 
than mere repetitions of their accidental models. They tried 
neither to invent nor to create. 

And yet the Egyptians must have begun at this period to give 
concrete forms to their gods. In view of the hieroglyphs of 
which Egyptian writing consisted, we have some difficulty in 
imagining a time when the names of their deities were not each 
attached to a material image with well marked features of its own. 
To write the name of a god was to give his portrait, a portrait 
whose sketchy outlines only required to be filled in by the sculptor 
to be complete. Egypt, therefore, must have possessed images of 
her gods at a very early date, but as they were not placed in the 
tombs they have disappeared long before our day, and we are 
thus unable to decide how far the necessity for their production 
may have stimulated the imaginative faculties of the early sculptors. 
In presence, however, of the Great Sphinx at Gizeh, in which we 
find one of those composite forms so often repeated in later 
centuries, we may fairly suspect that many more of the divine 
types with which we are familiar had been established. The 
Sphinx proves that the primitive Egyptians, were already bitten 
with the mania for colossal statues. Even the Theban kings 
never carved any figure more huge than that which keeps watch 
over the necropolis of Gizeh (Fig. 157, Vol. I.). But Egypt had 
other gods than these first-fruits of her reflective powers, than those 

^ Gabriel Charmes, La Reorganisation du Music de Boulak (Revue des Deux 
Mondes, September i, 1880). He is speaking of the fragment which is numbered 
988 in the Notice du Musee. According to Mariette it dates from a period anterior 
to Cheops. It was found near the statues of Ra-hotep and Nefert. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 221 

mysterious beings who personified for her the forces which 
had created the world and preserved its equilibrium. She had 
her kings, children of the sun, present and visible deities who 
maintained upon the earth, and especially in the valley of the 
Nile, the ever-threatened order established by their divine 
progenitors. Until quite recently it was impossible to say for 
certain whether or no the Egyptians of the Ancient Empire had 
attempted to impress upon the images of their kings the national 
belief in their divine origin and almost supernatural power. 
But Mariette — again Mariette — recovered from the well in the 
Temple of the Sphinx at Gizeh, nine statues or statuettes of 
Chephren. The inscriptions upon the plinths of these statues 
enable us to recognize for certain the founder of the second 

Most of these figures were broken beyond recovery, but two 
have been successfully restored. One of these, which is but little 
mutilated, is of diorite (Fig. 205) ; the other, in a much worse 
condition, is of green basalt (Fig. 56, Vol. I.).^ 

An initial distinction between these royal statues and the portraits 
of private individuals is found in the materials employed. For 
subjects even of high rank, wood or limestone was good enough, 
but when the august person of the monarch had to be immortalized 
a substance which was at once harder and more beautiful was 
employed. The Egyptians had no marble, and when they wished 
to do particular honour to their models they made use of those 
volcanic rocks, whose close grain and dusky brilliance of tone make 
them resemble metal. The slowness and difficulty with which 
these dense rocks yielded to the tools of the sculptor increased 
the value of the result, while their hardness added immensely to 
their chances of duration. It would seem: that figures which only 
took form under the tools of skilful and patient workmen after 
years of persevering labour might defy the attacks of time or of 
human enemies. Look at the statue on the next page. It is very 
different from the figures we have been noticing, although it 
resembles them in many details. Like many of his subjects the 
king is seated. His head, instead of being either bare or covered 

* Notice du Muske de Boulak^ Nos. 578 and 792. The discovery was made in 
i860 ; Mariette gives an account of it in his Lettres d M, de Rouge sur les Resultats 
des Fouilles etit reprises far ordre du Vice-roi d^Egypte, (Revue ArcJieologique^ No. 5, 
vol. ii. pp. 19, 20.) 

A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

with the heavy wig, is enframed in that royal head-dress which has 
been known, ever since the days of Champollion, as the klaft} 

Fin. 205,— Siftlue of Chephre 

It consists of an ample band of linen covering the upper part of 

the forehead, the cranium, and the nape of the neck. It stands 

' This is a Coptic word meaning hood. 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 223 

out boldly on each side of the face, and hangs down in two pleated 
lappets upon the chest. The king's chin is not shaved like those 
of his subjects. It is adorned like that of a god with the long and 
narrow tuft of hair which we call tfie Osiride beard. At the back 
of Chephren's head, which is invisible in our illustration, there is 
a hawk, the symbol of protection. His trunk and legs are bare ; 
his only garment is, in fact, the schenti about his middle. His left 
hand lies upon his knee, his right hand holds a rod of some kind. 
The details of the chair are interesting. The arms end in lions' 
heads, and the feet are paws of the same animal. Upon the sides 
are figured in high relief the two plants which symbolize the 
, upper and lower country respectively ; they are arranged around 
the hieroglyph sam, signifying union. 

The other statue, which now consists of little more than the 
head and trunk, differs from the first only in a few details. The 
chair is without a back, and, curiously enough, the head is that of 
a much older man than the Chephren of the diorite statue. This 
difference makes it pretty certain that both heads were modelled 
directly from nature. 

These royal statues are, then, portraits like the rest, but when 
in their presence we feel that they are more than portraits, that 
there is something in their individuality which could not have 
been rendered by photography or by casts from nature, had such 
processes been understood by their authors. In spite of the 
unkindly material the execution is as free as that of the stone 
figures. The face, the shoulders, the pectoral muscles, and 
especially the knees, betray a hand no less firm and confident 
than those which carved the softer rocks. The diorite Chephren 
excels ordinary statues in size — for it is larger than nature — in 
the richness of its throne, in the arrangement of the linen hood 
which gives such dignity to the head, in the existence of the 
beard which gives length and importance to the face. The artist 
has never lost sight of nature ; he has never forgotten that it was 
his business to portray Chephren and not Cheops or Snefrou ; 
and yet he has succeeded in giving to his work the significance 
of a type. He has made it the embodiment of the Egyptian 
belief in the semi-divine nature of their Pharaohs. By its size, 
its pose, its expression and arrangement he has given it a certain 
ideality. We may see in these two statues, for similar qualities are 
to be found in the basalt figure, the first effort made by the genius 

2 24 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of Egyptian art to escape from mere realism and to bring the 
higher powers of the imagination into play. 

The reign of those traditional forms which were to be so 
despotic in Egypt began at the same time. The type created by 
the sculptors of the fourth dynasty, or perhaps earlier, for the 
representation of the Pharaoh in all the mysterious dignity of his 
position, was thought satisfactory.* The calm majesty of these 
figures, their expression of force in repose and of illimitable power, 
left so little to be desired that they were accepted there and there- 
after. Centuries rolled away, the royal power fell again and again 
before foreign enemies and internal dissensions, but with every 
restoration of the national independence and of the national rulers, 
the old form was revived. There are variants upon it; some 
royal statues show Pharaoh standing, others show him sitting and 
endowed with the attributes of Osiris, but, speaking generally, the 
favourite model of the kings and of the sculptors whom they 
employed was that which is first made known to us by the statue 
of him to whom we owe the second pyramid. The only 
differences between it and the colossi of Amenophis III. at 
Thebes are to be found in their respective sizes, in their original 
condition, and in the details of their features. 

The moulds in which the thoughts of the Egyptians were to 
receive concrete expression through so many centuries were 
formed, then, by their ancestors of the Ancient Empire. All the 
later revivals of artistic activity consisted in attempts to compose 
variations upon these early themes, to remodel them, with more 
or less felicity, according to the fashion of the day. Style and 
technical methods were modified with time, but types, that is the 
attitudes and motives employed to characterise the age, the 
mental power, and the social condition of the different persons 
represented, underwent little or no change. 

This period of single-minded and devoted study of nature 
ought also to have transmitted to later times its care and skill 
in portraiture, and its realistic powers generally, to use a very 
modern phrase. Egyptian painters and sculptors never lost those 
qualities entirely ; they always remained fully alive to the 
differences of conformation and physiognomy which distinguished 
one individual, or one class, from another ; but as the models 
furnished by the past increased in number, their execution 

Sculpture under the Ancient Empire. 225 

became more facile and superficial, and their reference to nature 
became less direct and continual. Neither the art of Thebes nor 
that of Sais seems to have produced anything so original and 
expressive as the two statues from Meidoum or the Sheik-el-beledy 
at Boulak, or the scribe in the Louvre. 

We may easily understand what surprise and admiration the 
discovery of this early phase of Egyptian art excited among 
archaeologists. When the exploration of the Memphite necropolis 
revealed what had up to that time been an unknown world, 
Nestor L'H6te, one of the companions of Champollion, was the 
first to comprehend its full importance. He was not a savant ; 
he was an intelligent and faithful draughtsman and his artistic 
nature enabled him to appreciate, even better than the illustrious 
founder of egyptology, the singular charm of an art free from 
convention and routine. In his letters from Egypt, Champollion 
showed himself impressed mainly by the grandeur and nobility of 
the Theban remains ; L'H6te, on the other hand, only gave vent 
to his enthusiasm when he had had a glimpse of one or two of 
those mastabas which were afterwards to be explored by Lepsius 
and Mariette, Writing of the tomb of Menofr^, barber to one 
of the earliest Memphite kings, he says : ** The sculptures of 
this tomb are remarkable for their elegance and the finesse of 
their execution. Their relief is so slight that it may be compared 
to that of a five-franc piece. Such consummate workmanship in a 
structure so ancient confirms the assertion that the higher we 
mount upon the stream of Egyptian civilization the more perfect 
do her works of art become. By this it would appear that the 
genius of the Egyptian people, unlike that of other races, was 
born in a state of maturity.'* ^ 

" Of Egyptian art," he says elsewhere, ** we know only the 
decadence." Such an assertion must have appeared paradoxical at 
a time when the Turin Museum already possessed, and exhibited, 
so many fine statues of the Theban kings. And yet Nestor 
L'H6te was right, as the discoveries made since his time have 
abundantly proved, and that fact must be our excuse for devoting 
so large a part of our examination of Egyptian sculpture to the 
productions of the Ancient Empire. 

* Journal des Savants, 1851, pp. 53, 54. 

226 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

§ 3. Sculpture under the First Theban Empire, 

After the sixth dynasty comes an obscure and barren period, 
whose duration and general character are still unknown to 
egyptologists. Order began to be re-established in the eleventh 
dynasty, under the Entefs and Menthouthoteps, but the monu- 
ments found in more ancient Theban tombs are rude and awkward 
in an extreme degree, as Mariette has shown.^ It was not until 
the twelfth dynasty, when all Egypt was again united under the 
sceptre of the Ousourtesens and Amenemhats, that art made good 
its revival. It made use of the same materials — limestone, wood, 
and the harder rocks — but their proportions were changed. In 
Fig. 206 a wooden statue attributed to this period is reproduced. 
The legs are longer, the torso more flexible, than in the statue of 
Chephren and other productions of the early centuries. 

Compared with their predecessors other statues of this period 
will be found to have the same characteristics. It has been 
asserted that the Egyptians, as a race, had become more slender 
from the effects of their warm and dry climate. It is impossible 
now to decide how much of the change may fairly be attributed to 
such a cause, and how much to a revolution in taste. Even 
among the figures of the Ancient Empire there are examples to be 
found of these slender proportions, but they certainly appear to 
have been in peculiar favour with the sculptors of the later epoch. 
Except in this particular, the differences are not very great The 
attitudes are the same. See, for instance, the statue in grey 
sandstone of the scribe Menthouthotep, which was found by 
Mariette at Karnak and attributed by him to this epoch. Both 
by its pose and by the folds of fat which cross the front of the 
trunk, it reminds us of the figures of scribes left to us by the 
Ancient Empire. The nobler types also reappear. There is in 
the Louvre a statue in red granite representing a Sebek-hotep of 
the thirteenth dynasty (Fig. 207). He sits in the same attitude, 
with the same head-dress and the same costume, as the Chephren 
of Boulak. There is one difference, however, his forehead is 
decorated with the uraus, the symbol of royal dignity, which 

^ Mariette, Notice du Musky etc. Avant-proposy pp. 38, 39. 

Sculpture under the First Theban Empire. 227 

Ciiephren lacks.' The dimensions, too, are different. We do not 
know whether the Ancient Empire made colossal statues of its 

Fio. 106.— Wooden statue, Boutak. Drawn by B^Mite. 

kings or not, but this Sebek-hotep exceeds the stature of mankind 
sufficiently to make it worthy of the name. 

' See PiERHET, Dicliomiaire d" Archhlogii, under the word Uraus. 

228 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The Louvre possesses another monument giving a high idea 
of the taste of the sculptors belonging to this period, we mean the red- 
granite sphinx (Fig. 41, Vol. I.), which was successively appropriated 
by one of the shepherd kings and by a Theban Pharaoh of the 
nineteenth dynasty : the ovals of both are to be found upon it. 
Like so many other things from Tanis, this sphinx must date from 
a Pharaoh of the thirteenth dynasty. This De Roug6 has clearly 
shown.^ Tanis seems to have* been a favoured residence of those 
princes, and most of their statues have been found in it. A leg in 
black granite, now in the Berlin Museum, is considered the master- 
piece of these centuries. It is all that remains of a colossal statue 
of Ousourtesen.2 

According to Mariette. many of those fine statues in the Turin 
Museum which bear the names of princes belonging to the 


eighteenth, dynasty, Amenhoteps and Thothmeses, must have 
been made by order of the princes of the twelfth and thirteenth 
dynasties. In later years they were appropriated, in the fashion 
well known in Egypt, by the Pharaohs of the Second Theban 
Empire, who substituted their cartouches for those of the original 
owners. On more than one of the statues signs of the operation 
may still be traced, and in other cases the usurpation may be 
divined by carefully studying the style and workmanship.' 

It was in the ruins of the same city that Mariette discovered 
a group of now famous remains in which he himself, De Roug6, 
Dev^ria, and others, recognised works carried out by Egyptian 
artists for the shepherd kings. These works have an individual 
character which is peculiar to themselves,* They differ greatly 
from the ordinary type of Egyptian statues, and must have 
preserved the features of those foreign invaders whose memory 
was so long held in detestation in Egypt. This supposition is 
founded upon the presumed identity of Tanis with Avaris. the 

* Notice des Monuments exposks dans la Galerie d'Antiquith Agypttennes, Salle du 
Rez-de-chaussk^ No. 23. 

' De Roug6, Notice^ etc. Avant-propos^ p. 6. 
^ Mariette, Notice du Muske^ p. 86. 

* Mariette, Lettre de M. Au^, Mariette h M, de Rough sur les Fouilles de Tanis 
(Revue A rchhlogique, voL iii. 1861, p. 97). De Rouge, Lettre h M, Guigniaut sur 
les Nouvelles Explorations en igypte {Revue Archhlogique, vol. ix., 1864, p. 128). — 
Deveria, Lettre d M. Aug, Mariette sur quelques Monuments Relatifs aux Hyqsos ou 
Anterieurs d leur Domination {Revue Archhlogique, vol. iv. 1861, p. 251). — Ebers, 
yEgypten, vol. ii. p. 108. 

230 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

strong place which formed the centre of the Hyksos power for so 
many generations. 

Confirmation of this theory is found in the existence of an oval 
bearing the name of Apepi, one of the shepherd kings, upon the 
shoulder of a sphinx from Tanis. The aspect of this sphinx, 
and the features and costume of certain figures discovered upon 
the same site and dispersed among the museums of Europe, are 
said to have much in common with tlie ethnic peculiarities of the 
Syrian tribe by which Middle and Lower Egypt was occupied. 
M. Maspero, however, who has recently devoted fresh attention to 
these curious monuments, is inclined to doubt the justness of this 
conclusion. The position of the cartouche of Apepi suggests that 
it may be due to one of those usurpations which we have 
mentioned. For the present, therefore, it may be as well to class 
these monuments simply among the Tanite remains. Tanis, like 
some other Egyptian cities, had a style of its own, but we are 
without the knowledge required for a determination of its origin. 
We shall be content with describing its most important works and 
with calling attention to their remarkable originality. 

The most important and the best preserved of all these 
monuments is a sphinx of black granite which was recovered, 
in a fragmentary condition, from the ruins of the principal temple 
at Tanis (Fig. 208). Three more were found at the same time, 
but they were in a still worse state of preservation. The fore-part 
of one of them is figured in the adjoining woodcut. 

"There is a great gulf," says Mariette, ** between the energetic 
power which distinguishes the head of this sphinx and the 
tranquil majesty with which most of these colossi are endowed. 
The face is jound and rugged, the eyes small, the nose flat, 
the^' nroutli loftily contemptuous. A thick lion-like mane 
enframes the countenance and adds to its energetic expression. 
It is certain that the work before us comes from the hands 
of an Egyptian artist, and, on the other hand, that his sitter 
was not of Egyptian blood." ^ 

The group of two figures upon a common base, which is such 
a conspicuous object in the Hyksos chamber at Boulak, seems 
to have had a similar origin. We give a front and a side view of 

* Notice du Musee de Boulak^ No. 869. Our draughtsman has not thought it 
necessary to reproduce the hieroglyphs engraved upon the plinth. 

Sculpture under the First Theban Empire. 233 

it {Figs. 210 and 211), and borrow the following description 
from Mariette.^ 

" Huge full-bottomed wigs, arranged into thick tresses, cover 
the heads of the two figures. Their hard and strongly-marked 
features (unfortunately much broken) bear a great resemblance 
to those of the lion-maned sphinxes. The upper lips are shaven 
but the cheeks and chins are covered with long wavy beards. Each 
of them sustains on his outstretched arms an ingenious arrange- 
ment of fishes, aquatic birds, and lotus flowers. 

" No monument can be referred with greater certainty than 
this to the disturbed period when the Shepherds were masters 
of Egypt. It is difficult to decide upon its exact meaning. In 
spite of the mutilation which 
prevents us from ascertaining 
whether they bore the urans 
upon their foreheads, it cannot 
be doubted that the originals of 
the two statues were kings. In 
after years Psousennes put his 
cartouche upon the group, which 
assuredly he would never have 
done if he believed it to repre- 
sent two private individuals. But 
who could the two kings have 

been who were thus associated i.,,;. 209.-Head and fhouldem of a Taniw 

in one act and must therefore g^'S^^JL.""'' ^'"'"'" ^"'"'° ^'' 

have been contemporaries ? " 

This explanation seems to carry with it certain grave objec- 
tions. It is not, in the first place, so necessary as Mariette 
seems to think that we should believe them to be kings. Similar 
objects — fishes, and aquatic flowers and birds — are grouped in 
the same fashion upon werks which, to our certain knowledge, 
neither come from Tanisn or date from the Shepherd supremacy. 
Their appearance indicates an offering to the Nile, and we can 
readily understand how Psousennes claimed the merit of the 
offering by inscribing his name upon it, even although he were 
not the real donor, 

Mariette does rtot hesitate to ascribe to the same series 
a figure discovered in the Fayoum, upon the site of the city 
' Notice du Miisee de Boulak, No. i. 


234 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

which the Greeks called Crocodilopolis (Fig. 212). He describes 
it thus : — ^ 

" Upper part of a broken colossal statue, representing a king 
standing erect. No inscription. 

" The general form of the head, the high cheek-bones, the 
thick lips, the wavy beard that covers the lower part of the 

FiC, zio. —Group from Tanis ; grey sandstone. Drawn b)' Bourgoin. 

cheeks, the curious wig, with its heavy tresses, are all worthy 
of remark ; they give a peculiar and even unique expression 
to the face. The curious ornaments which lie upon the chest 
should also be noticed. The king is covered with panther skins ; 
the heads of two of those animals appear over his shoulders. 
" The origin of this statue, which was found at Mit-fares in 

' NotUe dit Miisee de Botilak, No. a. 

Sculpture under the First Theban Empire. 

the Fayoum, admits of no doubt. The kings who- decorated 
the temple at Tanis with the fine sphinxes and groups of 
fishermen which I found among its ruins, must also have trans- 
ported the vigorous fragments which we have before our eyes 
to the other side of Egypt." 

Finally, Dev^ria and De Roug^ have suggested that a work 
of the same school is to be recognized in the fr^ment of a 

Fin. 311. — Side view of the same croup. Drawn by Bourgoin. 

Statuette of green basalt, which belongs to the Louvre and is 
figured upon page 237.1 They point to similarities of feature 
and of race characteristics. The face of the Louvre statuette 
has a truculence of expression not unlike that of the Tanite 
monuments, while the workmanship is purely Egyptian and of 
the best quality ; the flexibility of body, which is one of the most 

' Deveria, Letire d M. Aug. Marielte, p. 258. — Pierret, Catalogue de la Salle 
Hhtorique, No. 6. 

236 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

constant qualities in the productions of the first Theban 
Empire, being espacially characteristic. The king represented 
wears the klaft with the uraus in front of it ; his schenti is 
finely pleated and a dagger with its handle carved into the shape 
of a hawk's head is thrust into his girdle. The support at the 
back has, unfortunately, been left without the usual inscription 

Kio, ai2,— Upper part of 1 royal slatae. Grey granite. Bouhk. Drawn by G. BenAiite. 

and we have no means of ascertaining the age of the fragment 
beyond the style, the workmanship, and the very peculiar 
physiognomy. Dev^ria suggests that it preserves the features 
of one of the shepherd kings, some of whose images Mariette 
thought he had discovered at Tanis and in the Fayoum.^ 

' M. Fr, Lenormant {BulUtino della Commusioiu Archeologka di Roma, fifth year, 
January to June, 1877) believes tliat he has discovered in one of the Roman 

Sculpture under the First Theban Empire. 

It cannot be denied that there are many striking points of 
resemblance between the different works which we have here brought 
together. Marietle laid great stress upon what he regarded as 
one of his most important discoveries. This is his definition 
of the type which the Egyptian artist set himself to reproduce 
with his habitual exactness ; " The eyes are small, the nose 
vigorous, arched, and flat at the end, the cheeks are large and 
bony, and the mouth is remarkable for the way in which its 
extremities are drawn down. The 
face as a whole is in harmony 
with the harshness of its separate 
features, and the matted hair in 
which the head seems to be sunk 
adds to the singularity of its 
appearance." ' 

Both Mariette and Ebers de- 
clare that this type has been 
preserved to our day with aston- 
ishing persistence. In the very 
district in which the power of 
the shepherds was greatest, in 
the neighbourhood of that Lake 
Menzaleh which almost bathes 
the ruins of Tanis, the poor 
and half savage fishermen who 
form the population of the district 
possess the strongly marked 
features which are so easily dis- 
tinguished from the rounder and y„,_ ^,^,^1^,^^^^^^^^ „,,u^t-e of a kins; 
softer physiognomies of the true time'clmter '"'^^''' ^""" ^^ ^'^'"' 

Egyptian fellah. Ahmes must 

have been content with the expulsion of the chiefs only 
of those Semitic tribes who had occupied this region for so 
many centuries. The mass of the people must have been too 
strongly attached to the fertile lands where they dwelt to refuse 
obedience to the conqueror, and more than one immigration, 

museums another monument belonging to the same period and to the same 
artistic group. 

' L///n's Rougi sur les Foiiilles de Tanis, p. 105. {Revue Anheologigue.) 

238 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

like that of the Hebrews, may have come in later times to renew 
the Arab and Syrian characteristics of the race.^ 

Whatever we may think of these conjectures and assertions, 
the sculptors of the First Theban Empire and of the Hyksos 
period took up and carried on the traditions of the Ancient 
Empire. The processes are the same except that in a few 
particulars they are improved. More frequent use is made of 
the harder rocks such as granite, basalt, and diorite, and a com- 
mencement is made in the art of gem-cutting. 

Even the bas-relief carries on the themes which had been In 
favour in the first years of the monarchy. We have already illus- 
trated two steles of this period (Figs. 87 and 164, Vol. I.). In the 
second, and especially in the woman, may be noticed those elongated 
proportions which characterize the sculpture of the first Theban 
dynasties. Apart from the steles, which come mostly from 
Abydos, we have few bas-reliefs which may be referred to this 
epoch. The mastabas with their sculptured walls were no longer 
constructed, and the most interesting hypogea of the middle 
Empire, those of Beni-Hassan, were decorated with paintings 
only. The sepulchral grottos of El-Bercheh possess bas-reliefs 
dating from the twelfth dynasty, and the quality of their work- 
manship may be seen in our Fig. 43, Vol. H. The style is less free 
and more conventional than that of the mastabas. The men 
who haul upon the ropes and those who march in front of them, 
are all exact repetitions one of another, causing an effect which 
is very monotonous. The paintings of Beni-Hassan, which 
are freer and more full of variety, are more able to sustain a 
comparison with the decorations of the mastabas. Even then, 
however, we find too miich generalization. Except in a few 
instances there is a less true and sincere feeling for nature, 
and a lack of those picturesque motives and movements caught 
flying, so to speak, by an artist who seems to be amused by 
what he sees and to take pleasure in reproducing it, which are 
so abundant in the mastabas. 

* Mariette, Notice du Muske^ p. 259. — Ebers, /Egypten, vol. i. p. 108. 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 239 

§ 4. Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire, 

The excavations at Tanis have helped us to understand many 
things upon which our information had been and still is very 
imperfect. We are no longer obliged to accept Manetho's 
account of the Shepherd invasion. In his desire to take at least 
a verbal revenge upon the conquerors of his country the historian 
seems to have greatly exaggerated their misdeeds. We know 
now not only that the native princes continued to reign in Upper 
Egypt, but also that the interlopers adopted, in the Delta, the 
manners and customs of their Egyptian subjects. So far as we 
can tell, there were neither destructions of monumental buildings 
nor ruptures with the national traditions. Thus the art of the 
three great Theban dynasties, from Ahmes to the last of the 
Rameses, seems a prolongation of that of the Ousourtesens 
and Sebek-hoteps. There are no appreciable differences in their 
styles or in their processes, but, as in their architecture, their 
works of art as a whole show an extraordinary development, a 
development which corresponds to the great and sudden increase 
in the power and wealth of the country. The warlike kings who 
made themselves masters of Ethiopia and of Western Asia, had 
aspirations after the colossal. Their buildings reached dimensions 
hitherto unknown, and while their vast wall spaces gave great 
opportunities to the sculptor they demanded efforts of invention 
and arrangement' from him to which he had previously been a 
stranger. These great surfaces had ' to be filled with historic 
scenes, with combats, victories, and triumphal promenades, with 
religious scenes, with pictures of homage and adoration. The 
human figure in its natural size was no longer in proportion to these 
huge constructions. In order to obtain images of the king which 
should correspond to the extent and magnificence of the colonnades 
and obelisks, the slight excess over the real stature of human 
beings which contented the sculptors of the Ancient Empire was 
no longer sufficient. Whether they were cut, as at Ipsamboul, 
out of a mountain side, or, as at Thebes, Memphis, and Tanis, 
out of a gigantic monolith, their proportions were all far beyond 
those of mankind. Sometimes the mortals who frequented the 

240 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

temples came nearly as high as their knees, but oftener they 
failed to reach their ankle-bones. The New Empire had a mania 
for these colossal figures. It sprinkled them over the whole 
country, but at Thebes they are more thickly gathered than 
elsewhere. In the immediate neighbourhood of the two seated 
statues of Amenophis III., the savants of the French Commission 
found the remains of fifteen more colossi.^ 

There were at least as many on the right bank. On the avenue 
leading through the four southern pylons at Karnak, the same 
explorers found twelve colossal monoliths, each nearly thirty-five 
feet high but all greatly mutilated, and the former existence of 
others was revealed to them by fragments scattered about the 
ground. They were able to reckon up eighteen altogether on 
this south side of the building.^ 

Similar stone giants peopled the other religious or political 
capitals of Egypt — Abydos, Memphis, Tanis, Sais, etc. The 
largest of all, however, are the colossi at Ipsamboul representing 
Rameses II. They are about seventy feet high. Among those 
cut from one enormous block brought from Syene or elsewhere, 
the best known are those of Amenophis III. at Thebes. They 
are fifty-two feet high without the pedestal. But the statue of 
Rameses II., which stood in the second court of the Ramesseum, 
must have been more than fifty-six feet high, as we may calculate 
from the fragments which remain. The head is greatly mutilated 
but the foot is over thirteen feet long.^ 

These statues were generally seated in the attitude which we 
have already described in speaking of Chephren and Sebek-hotep. 
Some, however, were standing, such as the colossal figure of 
Rameses which stood before the Temple of Ptah at Memphis. 
This figure, which is about forty-four feet high, is cut from a single 
block of very fine and hard limestone. It lies face downwards 
and surrounded by palm trees, in a depression of the soil near 
the village of Mitrahineh. In this position it is covered by the 
annual inundation. The English, to whom it belongs, have 
hitherto failed to take possession of it owing to the difficulty of 
transport, and yet it is one of the most careful productions of 

^ Description de VA^ypte^ Antiquites^ vol. ii. p. 182. 
• ' Description^ Antiquites, vol. ii. p. 105. 

3 Ch. Blanc, Voyage dans la Haute-^gypte^ p. 208. It has been calculated that 
this colossus weighed about 1220 tons. 

J-*i,.UL AK MlffiKUM 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 241 

the nineteenth dynasty. The head is full of individuality and its 
execution excellent. 

In spite of their taste for these colossal figures, the Egyptian 
sculptors of this period rivalled their predecessors in the skill and 
sincerity with which they brought out their sitter's individuality. 
It was not, perhaps, their religious beliefs which imposed this 
effort upon them. The readiness 
which successive kings showed 
in appropriating the statues of 
their ancestors to themselves by 
simply placing their ovals upon 
them, proved that the ideas which 
were attached by the fathers of 
the Egyptian race to their graven 
images had lost their force. | 
Effigies which were brought 
into the service of a new king by 
a mere change of inscription, were 
nothing more than monuments 
to his pride, destined to transmit 
his name and glory to future 
genenations. The early taste, 
however, was not extinguished. 
When the sculptor was charged 
with the representation of one 
of those kings who had made 
Egypt great, or one of the queens 
who were often associated in the 
sovereign power, he took the 

same pains as those of the early _. 

Empire to make a faithful copy ^ 

of his august model. 

Among the monuments of faith- fic. «4.-Tbothm« iii. Bo»l.k. Graniw. 
ful portraiture which this period 

has left us the statues of Thothmes III. are conspicuous. The 
features of this prince are to be recognized in a standing figure 
at Boulak (Fig. 214), but they are much more strongly marked 
in a head which was found at Karnak and is now in the British 
Museum {Fig. 215).' It formerly belonged to a colossal statue 
erected by that prince in the part of the temple built by himself 



242 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The features seem in no way Egyptian. The form of the nose, 
the upturned corners of the eyes, the curves of the lips, and the 
general contours of the face are all suggestive of Armenian blood.^ 
Others have thought it showed traces of negro descent. In the 
first-named statue these characteristics are legs conspicuous 
because its execution as a whole is less careful and masterly. 
The same physiognomy is to be found in a porphyry sphinx 
belonging to the Boulak collection .^ 

There is a strong contrast between the features of Thothmes 
and those of Amenophis III. the founder of Luxor. Of this we 
may judge by a head, as well preserved as that of Thothmes, 
which was found behind one of the statues of Amenophis at 
Gournah. It also is in the British Museum. The face is long 
and finely cut, with an expression and general appearance which 
we should call distinguished ; the nose is long and thin ; the chin 
well chiselled and bold in outline.^ 

Obliged to draw the line somewhere we have not reproduced 
this figure, but in Plate XI. we give a female head, discovered 
by Mariette at Karnak, and believed to be that of Taia, the queen 
of Amenophis III. Whether rightly named or not, this colossal 
fragment is one of the masterpieces of Egyptian sculpture.* 

Mariette enumerates various reasons for believing Taia to. have 
been neither of royal nor even of Egyptian blood. She might 
have been Asiatic ; the empire of her husband extended as far 
as Mesopotamia. The point has little importance, but as 
M. Charmes says, ** when we stop in admiration before the head 
of Taia, at Boulak, we feel ourselves unconsciously driven by her 
charms .... to forge a whole history, an historical romance, 
of which her enigmatic personality is the centre and inspiration, 
and to fancy her the chief author of these religious tragedies 
which disturbed her epoch and left a burning trace which has not 
yet disappeared." ^ 

M. Charmes here alludes to the changes which Amenophis IV. 

^ Gabriel Charmes, La Rhrganisation du Musee de Boulak, 

* Mariette, Notices du Musee, Nos. 3 and 4. 

•** The head of Amenophis III. may be recognized in the bas-relief reproduced 
in our Fig. 33, Vol. I. The fine profile and large well-opened eye strongly resemble 
those of the London statue. 

* Mariette, Voyage dans la Haute- J&gvpte^ vol. ii. p. 31. 

* G. Charmes, De la Reorganisation du Musee de poulak. 

Fli;. 315.— 'rholhmes III. British Museum. Ked granite. Crawn by Saiut-EIme Ganliei 

244 A History Of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

wished tor introduce into the national religion when he attempted 
to destroy the name and images of Amen, and to replace them 
with those of a solar god, who was represented by a symbol not 
previously encountered in the monuments (Fig. 2). If Mariette s 
hypotheses remain uncontradicted by later discoveries, we may 
admit Taia to be the mother of Amenophis IV., and to her 
influence in all probability would her son s denial and persecution 
of the great Theban deity be due. Our present interest, however, 
is with the features of Amenophis. They have been faithfully 
handed down to us by the artists employed at Tell-el-Amarna.^ 
By the help of these bas-reliefs a statuette in yellow steatite, now 
in the Louvre (Fig. 216), has been recognized as a portrait of 
this Pharaoh. Its workmanship is very fine. 

Some have thought that in these bas-reliefs, and in the Louvre 
statuette, the ** facial characteristics and the peculiar shapes of 
breast and abdomen by which eunuchs are distinguished, are to 
be found." ^ On the other hand, we know that while still very 
young Amenophis IV. married the queen Nowertiouta, and that 
he had seven daughters by her. "It is probable, therefore, that 
if the misfortune alluded to really befell him, it was during the wars 
waged by Amenophis III. against the negro races of the south." 
In any case, Amenophis IV. bore no resemblance to any one of 
the long procession of princes whose portraits have come down 
to us, from the early dynasties of the Ancient Empire to the 
Roman conquest. Lepsius devotes a series of plates to the 
iconography of the Egyptian kings, and among them all we find 
nothing that can be compared to the almost fantastic personality 
of Amenophis, with his low, unintellectual forehead, his pendulous 
cheeks, his feminine contours, and his general expression of gloom 
and melancholy. The fidelity with which all these unpleasing 
features are reproduced is extraordinary, and can only be 
accounted for by the existence of a tradition so well established 
that no one thought of breaking through it, even when the 
portrait of a semi -divine monarch was in question. 

There are other works dating from this period which show the 
same desire for truth at any price. One of the series of bas- 
reliefs discovered by Mariette in the Temple of Dayr-el-Bahari 

* DenkmcBler, vol. vi plates 91-111. The curious ugliness of this king is most 
clearly shown in plate 109. 

^ Mariette, Bulletin Archkologigue de PAthenceum FranfaiSy 1855, P- 57- 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 245 

may be given as an instance. The subject of these reliefs is the 
expedition undertaken by the regent Hatasu against the country 
of Punt.^ 

" In the most curious of these sculptures the savage chief 
advances as a suppliant. His wife walks behind him. Her hair 

Louvre. E)rawti by 

is carefully dressed and plaited into a thick tail at the back ; a 
necklace of large discs is round her neck. Her dress is a long 
yellow chemise, without sleeves, and reaching to the middle of her 
legs. Her features are regular enough, but virile rather than 
Mariette, Notice du Musie, No. 90?, and Dayr-d-Bahari, plates. 

246 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

feminine, and all the rest of her person is repulsive. Her arms, 
legs, and chest, are loaded with fat, while her person projects so 
far in the rear as to result in a deformity over which the artist 
has dwelt with curious complacence." The legs, so far as the 
chemise allows them to be seen, are so large that they suggest 
incipient elephantiasis. The Egyptian artist was induced, no 
doubt, to dwell upon such a monstrosity by the instructive contrast 
which it presented with the cultivated beauty of his own race.^ 

Realist as he was when he chose to take up that vein, the 
Egyptian sculptor attained, however, to a high degree of grace 
and purity, especially in his representations of historic and 
religious scenes. When he had not the exceptional ugliness of an 
Amenophis IV^. to deal with, he gave to the personages in his 
bas-reliefs a look of serious gravity and nobility which cannot 
fail to impress the greatest enthusiast for Greek models. He was 
no longer content with the sincere imitation of what he saw, like 
the artists of the Early Empire ; his efforts were directed to giving 
everlasting forms to those superhuman beings, the Egyptian gods 
and Egyptian kings, with their sons and favourites, who lived in 
hourly communion with them. Egyptian art at last had an ideal, 
which it never realized with more success than in certain bas-reliefs 
of this epoch. 

Mariette quotes, as one of the most learned productions of the 
Egyptian chisel, a bas-relief at Gebel-Silsilis representing a 
goddess nourishing Horus from her own breast. " The design 
of this composition is remarkable for its purity," he says, '*and 
the whole picture breathes a certain soft tranquillity which both 
charms and surprises a modern connoisseur." ^ 

We have not reproduced this work, but an idea of its style and 
composition may be formed from a bas-relief of the time of 
Rameses H., which we have taken from the speos of Beit-el-Wali 
(Fig. 255, Vol. I.). The theme is the same. A scene of adoration 
taken from a pier at Thebes (Fig. 176, Vol. I.) and, still more, a 
fine bas-relief in which Amenophis HI. does homage to Amen, to 

^ Mariette, Dayr-el Bahari^ p. 30, believed that Punt was in Africa, probably 
in the region of the Somali. He quotes various passages from the writings of 
modem travellers to show that this strange obesity is rather an African than an 
Arabian characteristic. See Speke's description of the favourite wife of Vouazerou, 
Discovery of the Source of tlu Nile, chap, viii., and Schweinfurth's account of the 
Bongo women, Heart of Africa (3rd edition) pp. 136 and 137. 

* Mariette, Itinhaire, p. 246. 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 247 

whom he is presented by Phr^, may also be compared with the 
work at Gebel-Silsilis. The movements are free and elegant, 
and nothing could be more expressive than the gestures of the 
two deities, than the attitude, at once proud and respectful, of the 
kneeling prince. The whole scene is imbued with sincere and 
grateful piety (Fig. 33, Vol. I.). 

We find the same theme, with some slight variations, in the bas- 
relief at Abydos figured on' page 390, Vol. I. The sculptures in 
the temple with which Seti I. adorned this city may be considered 
the masterpieces of Egyptian art in their own genre. Their firm 
and sober execution, and the severe simplicity of their conception, 
are well shown in our third plate. This royal figure, which we were 
compelled to detach from its companions in order that we might 
give it on a scale large enough to be of service, forms part of 
a composition which has been thus described by M. Charles 
Blanc : ** Seated upon the round base of a column, we examined 
the noblest bas-reliefs in the world. Seti was present in his own 
temple. His noble head, at once human and heroic, mild and 
proud, stood out from the wall and seemed to regard us with a 
gentle smile, A wandering ray of sunlight penetrated into the 
temple, and, falling upon the gentle salience of the sculptured 
figures, gave them a relief and animation which was almost 
illusive. A procession of young girls, whose graceful forms are 
veiled only by their chastity, advance towards the hero with as 
much freedom as respect will allow. . . . Their beauty attracts us 
while their dignity forbids all approach. The scene lives before 
us, and yet the stone is but grazed with the chisel and casts but 
the gentlest shadow. But the delicacy of the workmanship is 
combined with such vigour of design and such true sincerity of 
feeling that these young women, who represent the provinces of 
Egypt, seem to live and breathe before us." ^ 

The same qualities are found, though in less perfection, in those 
bas-reliefs which commemorate the conquests and military exploits 
of the great Theban Pharaohs on the pylons and external faces of 
the temple walls. The space to be covered is larger, the scene to 
be represented more complicated, than in the religious pictures, 
which, as a rule, include very few actors. The artist is no longer 
working for a narrow audience of gods, kings, and priests. His 
productions are addressed to the people at large, and he attempts 

' Ch. Blanc, Voyage dans la Haute- J^gypte^ p. 265. 


248 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

therefore to dazzle and astonish the crowd rather than to please 
the more fastidious tastes of their social leaders. His execution is 
more rapid and less thoughtful, as may be seen in our illustrations 
taken from the battle scenes of Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum, 
and Medinet-Abou (Figs. 13, 85, 173, 174, 253, and 254, Vol. I.). 
In each of these scenes there is a central figure to which our 
attention is immediately attracted. It is that of the king, and is 
far larger than those of his subjects and enemies. 

Sometimes he is on foot, his threatening mace raised above the 
heads of his prisoners, who kneel before him and raise their hands 
in supplication, as in a fine bas-relief at Karnak (Fig. 85, Vol. I.) ; 
more often he is represented standing in his chariot and dominating 
the tumult about him like a demi-god, driving a panic-stricken 
crowd before him sword in hand, or about to cleave the head 
of some hostile chief, whose relaxed members seem already to 
have felt the mortal stroke (Fig. 13, Vol. I.). Elsewhere we see 
him bending his bow and launching his arrows against the flying 
barbarians (Fig. 174, Vol. I.). "We could never look at this 
beautiful figure without fresh admiration," say the authors of the 
Description^ " it is the Apollo Belvedere of Egypt." ^ Again 
we see the king returning victorious from his wars, long rows of 
prisoners march behind and before him, their hands tied at their 
backs and attached by a rope to the chariot of the conqueror. 
The horses which, in the battle scenes, we saw rearing and trampling 
the dead and dying beneath their feet, advance quietly and under 
the control of the tightened rein, and their dainty walk suggests 
that they too have a share in the universal satisfaction that follows 
a war well ended. 

In all these reliefs the principal figure, that of the prince, is 
free and bold in design, and full of pride and dignity. These 
characteristics are also found in some of the secondary figures, 
such as those soldiers of the enemy who still resist, or the 
prisoners who resign themselves to the sovereign's mace (Figs. 13 
and 85, Vol. I.). But the wounded and fugitives in these battle 
pictures are curiously confused in drawing and arrangement. If we 
take these little figures separately many of them are drawn and 
modelled well enough, but, taken as a whole, they are huddled up 
into far too narrow a space, and seem heaped upon each other 
in impossible fashion. The Egyptian sculptor has been fired with 

* Antiquites^ vol. ii. p. no. 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 249 

the desire to emulate with his chisel the great deeds of his royal 
master, and, in his ignorance, he has passed the limits which 
an art innocent of perspective cannot overleap without disaster. 

The persistent tendency towards slightness of proportion, 
which we have already noticed in speaking of the First Theban 
Empire, is even more conspicuous in the figures of these reliefs 
than in the royal statues (Figs. 13, 50, 53, 84, 165, and 175, Vol. I.). 
Neither in these historical bas-reliefs, nor in those of the tombs, 
do we ever encounter the short thickset figures which are so 
common in the Ancient Empire. 

In the paintings and bas-reliefs of Thebes this slenderness is 
more strongly marked in the women than in the men, and every- 
thing goes to prove that it was considered essential to beauty 
in the female sex. Goddesses and queens, dancing girls and 
hired musicians, all have the same elongated proportions. This 
propensity is more clearly seen perhaps in the pictures of the 
Almees and Gawasi of Ancient Egypt than anywhere else. Look, 
for instance, at our reproduction of a bas-relief in the Boulak 
Museum (Fig. 217). It represents a funeral dance to a sound of 
tambourines, accompanied in all probability by those apologetic 
songs, called Bpkvoi by the Greeks, of which M. Maspero has 
translated so many curious fragments.^ All these women, who are 
practically naked in their long transparent robes, wear their hair 
in thick pendent tresses. Two young girls, quite nude, seem to 
regulate the time with castanets. A number of men, coming from 
the right, appear to reprove by their gestures the energetic motions 
of the women. This bas-relief is an isolated fragment, and without 
a date. It was found in the necropolis of Memphis and from its 
style Prisse ascribes it to the nineteenth dynasty, '' a time when 
artists were mannered in their treatment of the female form, 
combining great softness of contour with an impossible slenderness 
of build. The execution is careless, •but the movements and 
attitudes are truthful enough.'' ^ Our Plate XII. shows figures 
of the same general proportions, though rather better drawn. 

* Maspero, J^Judes sur quelques Peintures Funeraires. Mariette, in describing this 
bas-relief (Notice du Mush, No. 903), observes that these funeral dances are siill in 
vogue in most of the villages of Upper Egypt. The bas-reliefs from Sakkarah 
could not, however, as he says, render the piercing shrieks with which these dances 
are accompanied. 

* Prisse, Histoire de VArt Agyptien, Text, p. 418. This bas-relief has also been 
reproduced by Mariette, Monuments Divers, pi. 68. 


25Q A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

This curious mannerism began to establish itself during 
the first renascence of Egyptian art under the twelfth dynasty. 
It was to last, and even to grow more conspicuous, until the 
centuries of final decadence. The growing influence of conven- 
tionality is to be seen in other signs also. As art repeated and 
multiplied its representations, and the spaces which it had to 
decorate increased in number and size, it had at its disposal, as we 
may say, a larger number of moulds and made more frequent 
employment of certain groups and figures which were repeated 
without material change. In the decorations of this period we 
find long rows of figures which are practically identical with each 
other. They look as if they had been produced by stencil plates. 
With all their apparent richness and their wealth of imagery the 
sculpture and painting of Thebes show a poverty of invention 
which is not to be found in the art of the early dynasties.^ 

The gradual falling off in their powers of observing and 
reproducing natural forms is singularly well shown in their im- 
perfect treatment of those animals which had been unknown to 
their predecessors. The horse does not seem to have been 
introduced into Egypt until the time of the shepherd kings, but 
he soon conquered a high place among the servitors of the upper 
classes of Egyptians. He became one of the favourite themes of 
contemporary art. In all the great pictures of battle he occupies 
a central position, and he is always associated with the prowess 
of the sovereign. And yet he is almost always badly drawn. 
His movement is sometimes not without considerable vigour and 
even nobility, but his forms lack truth, he is generally far too thin 
and elongated. His head is well set on and his neck and 
shoulders good, but his body is weak and unsubstantial (Figs. 
13 and 174, Vol. I.). The bad effects of conventionality are here 
strongly felt. The same horse, in one of the two or three attitudes 
between which the Egyptian sculptor had to choose according to 
the scene to be treated, appears everywhere. The sculptors of the 
Memphite tombs saw with a very different eye when they set 
themselves to surround the doubles of their employers with the 

* Some of our illustrations allow the justice of this observation to be easily 

verified (Figs. 172, 253, and 254, Vol. I.). In one of these the porters and in another 

the prisoners of war seem to be multiplied by some mechanical process. A glance 

through the Denkmceler of Lepsius leaves a similar impression. We may mention 

. especially plates 34, 35, 175, 125, and 135 of the third Part. 

Sculpture under teie Second Tueban Empire. 


images of the domestic animals to whom they were accustomed 
in life. 

The difference can be seen, however, without going back to 
the Ancient Empire. Compare the great historical bas-reliefs of 
the temples and royal cenotaphs with the more modest decorations 
of certain private sepulchres, such as those which were found in the 
tomb of Chamhati, superintendent of the royal domains under the 
eighteenth dynasty (Fig. 218). The sculptors return with pleasure 
to those scenes of country life of which the pyramid builders were 
so fond. The fragment we reproduce shows the long row 
of labourers bending over their hoes, the sower casting his seed, 
the oxen attached to the plough and slowly cutting the furrow 

Fig. z 18.— Bas-relief from the tomb of Chunhili, Boutak. 

under the whip and voice of their drivers. Neither men nor 
beasts are drawn with as sure a hand as in the tomb of Ti, but 
yet the whole appears more sincere than productions of a more 
official kind. The oldest and most faithful assistant to the 
Egyptian fellah, the draught ox, is at least much more like nature 
than the charger of the Theban battle pictures. 

The dangers of routine and of a conventional mode of work 
seem now and then to have been felt by the Theban artists. 
They appear to h^ve set themselves deliberately to rouse attention 
and interest by introducing foreign types into their eternal battle 
pieces, and by insisting upon their differences of feature, of 
complexion, of arms and costume. They were also fond of 


254 A History of Art ix Ancient Egypt. f, 

_„_ _ ^ _ — __ 1 

depicting other countries and the strange animals that inhabited 
them, as in the bas-relief which shows a giraffe promenading ! 

among tropical palms.^ But in spite of all these meritorious 
efforts, they do not touch our feelings like the primitive artists of 
Gizeh and Sakkarah, or even of Beni- Hassan. Try as they will, 
they cannot conceal that soulless and mechanical facility which is 
so certain to fatigue the spectator. If we turn over the pages of 
Lepsius, we always find ourselves dwelling with pleasure upon 
the sculptures from the mastabas, in spite of their apparent 
similarity, while we have soon had enough of the pompous and 
crowded bas-reliefs from Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum and 

These defects are less conspicuous in figures in the round, and 
especially in the statues of kings. I do not know that the 
sculptors of the Setis and the Rameses ever produced anything 
equal to the portraits of Thothmes, Amenophis, and Taia, but 
there are statues of Rameses H. intact, which may be reckoned 
among the fine examples of Egyptian art. The features of no 
prince that ever existed were reproduced more often than those 
of this Rameses, who built so much and reigned so long. These 
reproductions, as might be supposed, differ very greatly in value. 

In the huge colossi which sit before the Great Temple at 
Ipsamboul (Fig. 248, Vol. I.), the limbs are not modelled with the 
careful precision which would be required in the case of a life-size 
statue. The arms and legs appear rather heavy on close inspection, 
and in a photograph those parts which are nearest to the camera, 
namely, the legs and the knees, seem too large for the rest of the 
figure. But the heads are characterized by a breadth and freedom 
of execution which brings out the desired expression with great 
effect when looked at from a proper distance. This expression 
is one of thoughtful mildness and imperturbable serenity. It is 
exactly suited to the image of a deified king, sitting as eternal 
guardian of the temple which his workmen had hewn out in the 
bowels of the mountain. 

Some discrimination must be exercised between the statues of 
Rameses which approach the natural size. We do not look upon 
his portrait when a child, which is now in the Louvre, as a 

* So, at Dayr-el-Bahari the decorator has taken pains to give accurate reproductions 
of the fauna and flora of Punt. See the plates of Mariette (payr-el-Bahart) and 
the remarks of Prof. Ebers {/Egypten^ vol. ii. p. 280). 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 255 

masterpiece (Fig. 219). The noble lines of the profile, recalling 
his father Seti, are indeed his, but the eye is tuo large and the 

Flc. 219. — Portrait of KamcEei II. nhile a cbild, actual size. LimcEtone. In ihe Louvre. 

hands are treated with an elegance which is more than a little 
mannered. The urieus on his brow and the titles engraved by 

256 A History of Art in Ancient Ejt.ypt. 

his side show that he was already king, but we can see that he 
was still very young, not so much by the juvenile contours of his 
body, as by the finger in his mouth and the lock of hair hanging' 
upon his right shoulder. A statue at Boulak {F"ig. 220) shows signs 
of carelessness rather than of affectation. In it Rameses Is still a 
young man. The eyes, the small mouth, the calm and smiling- 
visage, are all well modelled, but the legs are quite shapeless. 

— Smtue of Rameses II. Boulak, 

Some good bas-reliefs date from this reign. Among others 
we may name those prisoners of war bound together, which 
Champollion copied from the plinth of a royal statue in the 
Ramesseum (Fig. 221). The race characteristic* are very well 
marked. The prognathous negro, with his thick lips, short nose, 


sloping brow, and woolly poll ; the Asiatic, an Assyrian perhaps, 
with his regular, finely-chiselled profile and his knotted head- 
dress, are easily recognized. The movement of these two figures 
is also happy, its only defect is its want of variety. The same 
remarks may be applied to those sculptures on the external walls 
of the small temple at Abydos, which represent the soldiers 
belonging to the legion of the Chardanes or Sharuten, the supposed 
ancestors of the Sardinians. Their picturesque costume and singular 
arms have been described more than once. A metal stem and a ball 
between two crescent- shaped horns surmount their helmets ; they 
are tall and slender, with small heads and short round noses.^ 

The finest statue of Rameses II. that has come down to our 
time is, perhaps, the one in the Turin Museum (Fig. 222). Its 

Fig. 221. — Prisoners of war ; Ramesseum. From ChampoUion, pi. 322. 

execution is most careful, and its state of preservation marvellous. 
The head is full of individuality and distinction. One of the 
king's sons is shown, on a very small scale, leaning against the 
foot of his father s seat. 

Boulak possesses the upper part of a broken statue of Rameses, 
which is not inferior to this in artistic merit. The contours are 
singularly pure and noble. 

Most of those who are authorities on the subject agree that art 
fell into decay towards the end of Rameses the second's long reign 
of sixty-seven years. Carried away by his mania for building, the 
king thought more of working rapidly than well. In his impatience 
to see his undertakings finished, he must have begun by using up 

* Ch. Blanc, Voyage dans la Haute-^gypte, p. 74, pi. 31. 


L L 

258 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the excellent architects and decorative artists left to him by his 
father. He left them no time to instruct pupils or to form a 
school, and so in his old age he found himself compelled to employ- 
mediocrities. *' The steles, inscriptions, and other monuments of 
the last years of Rameses H. are to be recognized at a glance by 
their detestable style," says Mariette.^ With the fine bas-relief 
at Abydos which is reproduced in our Plate HI., Vol. I., Marietta 
contrasts another which is to be found in a neighbouring hall 
and represents Rameses H, in the same attitude. In the former, 
the figure of Seti is expressed in the most delicate low relief, in 
the latter the contours of Rameses are coarsely indicated by a 
deeply-cut outline.^ So too M. Charles Blanc : " As we pass from 
the tomb of Seti I. to those of Seti H. and Rameses IV., the 
decadence of Egyptian art makes itself felt, partly in the character 
of the pictures, which no longer display the firmness, the delicacy, 
or the significance, of those which we admired in the tomb of the 
first-named monarch, partly in the exaggerated relief of the 
sculptures.*' ^ 

Unless Mariette was mistaken in his identification of one of the 
most remarkable fragments in the Boulak Museum, Thebes must 
have possessed first-rate artists even at the death of Rameses. 
M. Charmes thus speaks of the fragment (Fig. 223) in question : 
** By a happy inspiration, Mariette has given the bust of Queen 
Taia a pendant which equals it in attractiveness, which surpasses 
it, perhaps, in delicacy of treatment .... it is the head of a king 
surmounted by a huge cap which weights it without adding to its 
beauty. It formerly belonged to a statue which is now broken up. 
The young king was standing ; in his left hand he held a ram- 
headed staff. ... It is impossible to give an idea of the youthful, 
almost childish grace, of the soft and melancholy charm in a 
countenance which seems overspread with the shadow of some 
unhappy fate. How did its author contrive to cut from such 
an unkindly material as granite, these frank and fearless eyes, that 
slender nose with its refined nostrils, and these lips, which are 
so soft and full of vitality, that they seem modelled in nothing 
harder than wax. We are in presence of one of the finest relics 
of Egyptian sculpture, apd nothing more exquisite has been 

^ Mariette, Voyage dans la Haute-Agypte^ vol. i. p. 72. Plates 23 and 24. 
2 Champollion makes the same remark {Leitres d'Egypte et de Nubie, p. 326). 
* Ch. Blanc, Voyage dans la Haute-J&gyptey p. 178. 

tlQ, 232.— Statue of Kamescs II. in the Tarin Museum, Granite. Drawn by Sainl-Elme Gautiei 

26o A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

produced by the art of any other people. The inscription is mutilated 
by a fissure in the granite, but Mariette believes that the statue 
represents Menephtah, the son of Rameses II."' 

Fig, 223. — Head of Menephtali, Boatal. Drawn by Saiot-Etme Ganli«r. 

There is a colossal statue of Seti II., the son of this Menephtah, 
in the Louvre (Fig. 224). Although the material of which it 

• Gab. Charmes, Dela Reorganisation du Musie de Botilak. — Mabiftfe, Notice, 
No. 22. 

262 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

consists, namely sandstone, is much less rebellious than granite, the 
features, which have a family resemblance to those of Menephtah, 
are executed in a much more summary fashion than in the Boulak 
statue, and yet the execution is that of a man who knew his 
business. The modelling of the muscular arms is especially 

There are hardly any royal statues left to us which we can 
ascribe with certainty to the twentieth dynasty, but at Medinet- 
Abou, both on the walls of the temple and in the Royal Pavilion 
there are bas-reliefs which show that the sculpture of Rameses III., 
the last of the great Theban Pharaohs, knew how to hold its 
own among the other glories of the reign. We have given a 
few examples of the pictures in which the king is shown as a 
warrior and as a high priest (Figs. 172 and 173 Vol. I.); other 
groups should not be forgotten in which he is exhibited during his 
hours of relaxation in his harem, among his wives and daughters. 

Under the last of the Rameses the Egyptians lost their mili- 
tary spirit and, with it, their foreign possessions in the South 
and East. Inclosed within its own frontiers, between the 
cataracts in the South and the Mediterranean in the North, and 
enfeebled by the domination of the priests and scribes, the 
country became divided into two kingdoms, that of Thebes, 
under a theocratic dynasty, and that of Tanis in which the royal 
names betray a strong Semitic influence. 

That worship of Asiatic divinities which, though never nien- 
tioned in official monuments, is so often alluded to in the steles, 
must then have taken hold of the people of Lower Egypt. 
Among these were Resheb, the Syrian Apollo ; Kadesh, who 
bore the name of a famous Syrian fortress, and was but one 
form of the great Babylonian goddess Anahit, the Anaitis of 
the Greeks. Kadesh is sometimes represented standing upon 
a Hon passant (Fig. 225). 

Exhausted by its internal conflicts, Egypt produced few monu- 
mental works for several centuries. Many kings, however, of 
this barren period, and especially Sheshonk, have left at Karnak 
records of their military victories and of their efforts to re-establish 
the national unity. After the twenty-fourth dynasty Egypt 
became the vassal of that Ethiopian kingdom whose civilization 
was no more than a plagiarism from her own. During the half 

* Louvre. Ground-floor gallery, No. 24. 

Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire. 


century that this vassalage endured, the southern conquerors 
gave full employment to such artists as Egypt had preserved. 
The latter were set to reproduce the features of the Ethiopian 
kings, but the works which resulted are very unequal in merit. 

Sabaco caused the sides of the great door in the pylon of 
Rameses at Karnak to be repaired. The execution of the figures 
is by no means satisfactory. " The relief is too bold ; the mus- 
cular development of the heroes represented is exaggerated to a 
meaningless degree ; coarse vigour has taken the place of 
graceful strength.'* ^ 

But although these bas-reliefs, the only ones of the period 
which have been encountered, are evidently inspired by the 
decadence, the Egyptian sculp- 
tors seem to have still preserved 
much of their skill in por-r 
traiture. Mariette believes that 
a royal head in the Museum at 
Cairo represents Tahraka, the 
third of the Ethiopian sovereigns. 
It is disfigured by the loss 
of the nose. The remaining 
features are coarse and strongly 
marked and the general type 
is foreign rather than Egyptian.^ 
However this may be, it cannot 
be denied that in the alabaster 
statue of Ameneritis, which was 
found at Karnak by Mariette, we 

have a monument of this phase in Egyptian art remarkable 
both for taste and knowledge (Fig. 226).^ 

During the Ethiopian occupation Queen Ameneritis played 

^ Ch Blanc, Voyage dans ia Haute-Egypte, p. 153. 

* MARiErrE, Noticey No. 20. 

* Mariette, Notice^ No. 866. There is a cast of this statue in the Louvre, but, 
like that of the statue of Chephren, which forms a pendant to it, it has been coloured 
to the hue of fresh butter and the result is most disagreeable. Even when placed 
upon a cast from an alabaster figure this colour is bad enough, but when the cast 
is one from a statue in diorite, like that of Chephren, it is quite inexcusable. It 
would have been better either to have left the natural surface of the plaster or 
to have given to each cast a colour which should in some degree recall that of the 
originals and mark the difference between them. 

Fig. 225. — The Goddess Kadesh ; from 
Wilkinson, Fig. 55. 

264 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

an important role in the affairs of Eg)'pt. While her brother 
Sabaco was yet alive she 
was dignified with the title 
of regent, later she brought 
her rights to the double 
crown of Upper and 
Lower Egypt to the 
usurper Piankhi, whom she 
married and made the 
father of Shap-en-Ap, who 
afterwards became the 
mother of Psemethek I. 

The head of Ameneritis 
is covered with the full- 
bottomed wig worn by 
goddesses. She holds a 
whip in her left hand 
and a sort of purse in her 
right ; there are bangles 
upon her wrist and ankles 
and the contours of her 
body are frankly dis- 
played beneath the long 
chemise-like robe, which 
falls almost to her ankles. 

The featuresare resolute 
and intelligent rather than 
beautiful, the squareness 
of the lower jaw and the 
firm line of the mouth 
being especially significant. 

We have, then, every 

reason' to believe this to 

be a good portrait. Both 

form and expression are 

I just what might be ex- 

. — " ' pected in a high-born 

Fio. aa6.— Statue of Ameneritis. Alalaster. Boulik. ITo-vnrian female nns- 

Drawn by G. iWnWite. Lgypcian lemaie pos- 

sessed of sovereign power. 
The treatment of the body is rather conventional. The bust, so 

The Art of the Saite Period. 26 «; 

far as it can be traced under the clinging robe, is younger than the 
head, which is that of a woman in middle life. With these 
reserves the statue is very pleasing. The arms are a little stiff, 
but the figure as a whole is characterized by a chaste and sober 
elegance. The modelling is not insisted upon too much, but its 
undulating contours are discreetly indicated under the soft though 
by no means transparent drapery. The whole work is imbued 
with the spirit of Saite art, an aftermath which was characterized 
by grace and refinement rather than by freedom and power. 

§ 5. The Art of the Saite Period. 

After the last of the Ramessids the decadence of Egypt was 
continuous, but in the seventh century B.C. while the Ethiopians 
and Assyrians contended for the possession of the country, it was 
particularly rapid. Under Psemethek, however, there was a 
revival. The foreigners were driven out, the national unity was 
re-established, and Syria was again brought under the Egyptian 
sceptre. An artistic renascence coincided with this restoration of 
political well being, and the princes of the twenty-sixth dynasty set 
themselves to restore the monuments which had perished during 
the intestine troubles and foreign inroads. Their attention was 
mainly directed to the architectural monuments of Lower Eg}'pt>; 
but little now remains of the buildings which drew so much praise 
from the Greek travellers. Their sculptured achievements have 
been more fortunate. Their statues were sprinkled over the whole 
country, and many of them have been found at Memphis, at 
Thebes, and even among the ruins of cities which have long ago 
disappeared. Thus we find that most Egyptian collections contain 
figures which may be assigned to this time, or rather to this 
school, for the style held its own even as late as the first two or 
three Ptolemies. Among them may be mentioned the pastophorus ^ 
of the Vatican, the Arsaphes^ of the British Museum, the statues 
of serpentine found at Sakkarah in the tomb of a certain 
Psemethek, a high officer under the thirtieth dynasty,^ and the fine 

^ For the meaning of this word see Pierret, Dictionnaire^ &c. 
* For illustrations of this statue and an explanation of the name here given to 
it, see Birch, Gallery of Antiquities^ I^ondon, 4to. — Ed. 
3 Mariette, Notice du Musee de Boulak, No. 385. 


266 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

bronzes of Osiris discovered at Medinet-Abou.^ All the bronzes 
found in the Serapeum belong to the same category.^ 

By means of secondary remains, such as sphinxes, steles, and 
scarabs, we can just contrive to get a glimpse at the features of 
those brilliant sovereigns who, after dazzling Egypt and the 
surrounding countries early in the seventh century B.C., fell before 
the first attacks of the Persians.^ Many of their effigies must 
have been destroyed by the invaders, either at their first conquest, 
or during the three subsequent occasions when they were com- 
pelled to re-establish their ascendency by force. A similar fate 
must have overtaken the statues of Inards and Nectanebo, who 
succeeded for a time in restoring the independence of their 
country. For the whole of this period the royal iconography is 
much more scanty than for the two Theban empires. 

We shall not dwell upon the figure in green basalt which stands 
in the middle of the Salle Historiqtie in the Louvre. We know 
from the inscription upon its girdle that it represents the king 
Psemethek 1 1. The execution is careful, but the work has suffered 
great mutilation, the head and parts of the limbs being modern 
restorations.* On the other hand, the two little bronze sphinxes 
which stand upon the chimney-piece in the same room are in 
excellent condition. According to De Roug6 their heads reproduce 
the features of Ouaphra, the Apries of the Greeks (Fig. 227).^ 
In the ground-floor gallery there are several sphinxes which, 
according to their inscriptions, should include portraits of some of 
those princes who between 527 and 332 b.c. temporarily freed 
Egypt from the Persian yoke ; Nepherites, Achoris, Nectanebo, &c. 
None of them, however, show enough individuality in their 
features to suggest that they were copied from nature. Their 
heads are all clothed indiscriminately in the same elegance of 
contour, and in looking at them we find ourselves far indeed from 
the admirable portraits of the early empire, or even from that 
statue of Ameneritis which closes the series of royal effigies. 

^ Notice^ Nos. 196-7. 

^ Ibid, Nos. 105-15. 

^ The Boulak Museum possesses a very fine scarab which shows Nechao between 
Isis and Neith, one of whom hands him a mace and the other a small figure of 
Mentou-Ra, the God of Battles. Two chained prisoners are prostrate at the base 
of the scarab. Mariette, Notice^ No. 556. 

* PiERRET, Catalogue de la Salle Historique^ No. 269. 

^ De Rougf, Notice Sommaire, p. 59. 

The Art of the Saite Period. 267 

The chief pre-occupation of the Saite sculptor was to obtain 
suppleness of modelling and an apparent finish of execution, both 
of which, in his opinion, were effective in proportion as the 
material used was hard and unyielding.' His chisel was employed 
much more than formerly in fusing together the various layers of 
muscle which form the walls of the human structure. He did not 
lay so much stress on the skeleton, or on the leading lines of the 
figure, as his early predecessors. His care was mainly devoted to 
rendering the subtle outward curves and contours, and this he 
often carries to such excess as to produce a result which is simply 
wearisome from its want of energy and accertt. There is a group 
at Boulak upon which too much praise has been lavished, to which 
this stricture thoroughly applies. It represents one of the 

Flo. 227, — Bronze Sphinx, Louvre, Drawn by SaiDt'Elme Gaulier. 

Psemetheks, clothed in a long robe, standing before the goddess 
Hathor who is in the form of a cow. The head and torso are 
finely chiselled, but, through an exaggerated desire for elegance, the 
arms have been made far too long, and the divine cow is entirely 
without truth or expression. This defect is still more conspicuous 
in the two figures of Isis and Osiris that were found with this 
group. Their execution has reached the extremity of coldness 
through the excessive use of file and sand-paper." 

^ It would appear that wood-carving was never so popular in Egypt as it was 

under the Second Theban Empire, The numerous wooden statues which fill our 
nauseums date from that period. We have given an example of them in Fig. 50, Vol I.. 
* Mariette, Notice du Mush, Nos. 386 and 387. Marietle seems to estimate 
these two statuettes far too highly. 


A History of Art m Ancient Egypt. 

Sometimes the sculptor knows where to leave off, and the result 

Fig. 22S.~-Statue of Nekht-hir-lieb, Louvre. Drawn by Saint-Elme Gaulier, 

is better. The sandstone statue of Nekht-har-heb, in the Louvre, 

The Art of the Saite Period. 269 

is one of the best productions of the Saite artists (Fig. 228).^ The 
execution of hands and feet is sketchy, and the countenance is 
without much expression, but the attitudes of the arms and legs, 

Fig. 229. — Stalue of Honis, Lonvre. Drawn by Saint-Klme Uaulier. 

the modelling of the trunk, and the pose of the head, unite breadth 
with facility and dignity to such a degree, that we are reminded, 

' De Rouc^, Notice des Moniimentt Expos'es au Rez-ie-ekaussk, No. 94. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt, 

for a moment, of a Greek marble. In spite of the singular 
attitude there is much in the execution which recalls a much more 
ancient work, the statue of Ouah-ab-ra, which dates from the 
twenty-sixth dynasty (Fig. 51, Vol. I.)^ 

Not less remarkable is the headless statue of a personage called 
Horus, which dates from about the same period (Fig. 229).^ It is 
of black granite and yet both limbs and torso are as delicately 
modelled as if they were of the softest limestone. The attitude of 
the arms is unusually easy and natural, and the whole figure is 
freer and less constrained than anything we find in the ancient 
statues. There is, too, a certain spirit of innovation discoverable 
in the feet. The toes are well separated and slighty bent, instead 
of being flat and close together. 

The same style, taste, and general tendency are to be found in 
the steles and in the decoration of the tombs. In a few sepulchral 
bas-reliefs we can detect a desire to imitate the compositions on 
the walls of the mastabas. Such attempts were quite natural, and 
we need feel no surprise that the Egyptians in their decline should 
have turned to the artistic form and motives which had been 
invented in their distant and vigorous youth. The old age of 
many other races has shown the same tendency in their arts 
and literature. 

The beautiful band of sculpture in low relief which was found, 

' De Rouge, Notice des Monuments Exposis au Rez-de-chausste, No. 91. 

- Ibidem, No. 88. 

The Art of the Saite Period. 

together with another very similar to it, at Mitrahineh, upon the 
site of ancient Memphis, might easily be taken at first sight for a 
production of the early centuries (Figs. 230 and 231), It formed 
the lintel to the door of a house dating from the Greek or Roman 
period, for which purpose it had doubtless been carried off from 
some tomb.^ At one end a dignified individual is seated upon a 
low-backed chair, in his left hand he holds the long wand of office, 
in his right a ribbon. His name and titles are engraved in front 
of him : he was a writer, and was called Psemethek-nefer-sam. A 
scribe bends respectfully before him and introduces a procession 
of men, women, and children, who bring offerings of various kinds, 
jars of liquid, coffers, flowers, birds, and calves led by a string. It 
is the favourite theme of the mastabas over again. The attitudes 

Fig, 331. — ConiinuatioD or Fi^. 330. 

are similar, but the execution is different. There is a lack of 
firmness and rotundity in the modelling, and considerably more 
striving after elegance. The children especially should be 
noticed ; the fashion in which they all turn towards their elders 
betrays a desire on the part of the artist to give freshness and 
piquancy to his composition. 

Most of those bronze figures of the gods, which are so plentiful 
in the European museums, date from this period. We have repro- 
duced several of them in our chapter upon the Egyptian pantheon 
(Figs. 34-37, Vol. -I.). With the advent of Alexander and his 

' Mariette, Nolice du Musk, Nos. 35-6. 

272 A History of Art in Anxient Egypt. 

successors, a number of Greek artists became domiciled in Egypt ; 
they employed their talents in the service of the priests and scribes 
without attempting in any way to affect the religion, the institutions, 
or the habits of the people. The Egyptian artists were heirs 
to the oldest of all civilizations, their traditions were so firmly 
established, and their professional education was so systematic, 
that they could hardly consent to modify their ideas at the first 
contact with a race whom they secretly despised, although they 
were compelled to admit their political and military supremacy. 
Many years had to pass before Egyptian sculpture, and with it the 
written character and language, became debased as we find it in 
certain Roman and Ptolemaic temples. Several generations had 
to come and go before a hybrid Egypto-Greek style, a style which 
preserved the most unhappy forms and conventions of Egyptian 
art while it lost all its native freshness and originality, imposed 
itself finally upon the country. 

The worst of the Saite statues are still national in style. It is 
an Egyptian soul that inhabits their bodies, that breathes through 
the features, and places its mark upon every detail of the 
personality represented. This is no longer the case with the 
figures which, from the time of Augustus to that of Hadrian, 
seem to have been manufactured in such quantities for the 
embellishment of Roman villas. Costumes, accessories, and 
attitudes are all Egyptian, but the model upon which they are 
displayed is Greek. Until the beginning of the present century 
archaeologists were deceived by the masquerade, and were unable 
to distinguish between pasticcios, many of which may not even 
have been made in Egypt, and the really authentic works of the 
unspoiled Egyptian artists. Such mistakes are no longer probable, 
but even now it is difficult to say exactly where the art of Sais 
was blended into that of the Ptolemies. When there is no 
epigraph upon which to depend the most skilful archaeologist 
may here make mistakes. 

There are, however, a few figures in which the influence of the 
Greek works brought to Alexandria by the descendants of Lagus, 
may be detected in an incipient stage. The motives and attributes 
are still purely Egyptian, but the modelling, the carriage of the 
head, and the attitude are modified, and we see, almost by intuition, 
that the Greek style is about to smother the Egyptian. This 
evidence of transition is, we think, very marked in a bronze group 

The Art of the Saite Period. 

of Isis suckling Horus in the Louvre (Fig. 55, Vol. I.), and in Horus 
enthroned supported by lions (Fig. 232). And yet the difference 

Fig. 133. — Horns enthroned. Bronie. Louvre, 

between these things and those which are frankly Grsco- 
Roman is great, and at once strikes those who come upon the 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

latter in the galleries of Boulak, where they are mixed up with so 
many creations of Egyptian genius. The distinction is equally 
obvious in works produced by foreign sculptors established in 
Egypt, and in those by Egyptians working under Greek masters. 
Look at the head found at Tanis, which is reproduced both in 
full face and profile in Fig. 233. It is of black granite, like so many 
Egyptian statues, but we feel at once that there is nothing Egyptian 

Fig. 233.— Roman head, Boulak. Drawn by Boiu^in, 

about it but the material. It is obviously a portrait of a man of 
mature age ; the face is beardless, the curly hair cut short During 
the Greek and Roman period the temple of San was enriched by 
the statues of private individuals, and doubtless this fragment 
belonged to one of them. Tradition says that the statue was 
placed in front of a pier with which it was connected by the Ionic 
moulding which is still to be traced upon the right side of the 
head. With this exception the treatment is that of the best 
Augustan period. The person represented may very well have 
been one of the first Roman governors of Egypt.' 

' Mariette, Notice du Musk, No. 18. 

TiiK Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture. 275 

§ 6. The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture, 

When we come to study Greek sculpture we shall find that 
the masterpieces in which its highest powers are displayed, are 
statues of divinities, such as the Athene of the Parthenon and the 
Olympian Zeus. In'bur review of the Egyptian works of the same 
kind we have not had occasion to call attention to a single god or 
goddess. Their representation was not, as in Greece, the aim of 
the highest art. The figures of deities were, indeed, numerous 
enough in Egypt, but the national artist did not show such 
originality in their conception as in those of kings and private 
individuals. This phenomenon may seem inconsistent with what 
we know of the piety of the Egyptians and the place occupied by 
religion in their daily life ; it is to be easily explained, however, by 
the origin of Egyptian sculpture and the part which the statues 
of the gods played in it» 

Egyptian art began with portraiture. As soon as it was capable 
of carving and painting stone it was realistic, not so much by 
instinct and taste as by duty. After such a beginning it found 
great difficulty in raising itself above intelligent and faithful 
reproduction of fact. Such inventive powers as it possessed were 
spent in creating a type for the royal majesty, and in that case 
it had concrete reality as a starting point. When it came to 
representing the gods it had no such help. It could not fall back 
upon fidelity to fact, and, unlike the Greeks of after ages, it was 
unable to give them distinction by the superior nobility and dignity 
of their physical contours and features. It was reduced to 
differentiating them by the variety of their attributes. By such 
a proceeding it obtained an almost infinite number of divine types, 
but each type was only recognizable on condition that its pose 
and accessories, once determined, should remain without material 
change. There was none of the mobility and elasticity which 
distinguishes the dwellers on the Greek Olympus, as may be clearly 
seen by comparing the poverty and want of variety of a Horus 
or a Bast with the infinite diversity of an Apollo or an Artemis. 

When the Egyptian sculptor had to endow the national gods 
with concrete forms he found himself, then, in a condition much 

276 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

less favourable than that of his Greek successors. This position, 
too, was materially affected by the fact that the best site in the 
temple, the centre of the naos, was reserved for a symbol, some- 
times living, sometimes inanimate, which was looked upon as the 
true representative of the god. It was to this symbol, jealously 
hidden from all but the high priest and the king, that the prayers 
of the faithful were addressed. It has been called a survival from 
the early fetish worship. Perhaps it was so. But at present we 
are only concerned with its unfortunate results upon artistic 
development. His statues . being excluded from the place of 
honour, the sculptor was not, as in Greece, stimulated to combine 
all the qualities ascribed by the nation to its gods in one supreme 
effort of his knowledge and skill ; he was not raised above himself 
by the desire to produce a work which might give point to the 
magnificence of a temple and augment the piety of a race. 

Mariette was right in insisting upon this difference. "The 
temples," he says, " hardly contain a statue which is not votive. 
Sometimes these statues are found irregularly distributed about 
the foundations or in the sand, sometimes they are of large size 
and are arranged along the walls, but they hardly ever exceed the 
life-size of a man. / cannot say that each temple had a figure which 
could be specially called the statue of that temple. The divine 
images were plentiful enough ; but each had its own particular 
ministration. In the prayers addressed to it the name of its 
consecrator was always included. Such a thing as a status forming 
the central object of a temple and representing its god wit/iout votive 
appropriation did 7iot, perhaps^ exist!' ^ 

Figures of Sekhet, the goddess with the head of a lioness, 
have been discovered in hundreds in the building at Karnak 
known as* the Temple of Mouth, or Maut. This mine of statues 
has been worked ever since 1 760, and all the museums of Europe 
have shared the results.^ Being so numerous these statues could 
not have reached great excellence of execution. They were 

^ Mariette, Notice du Musee, p. 16. See also his Catalogue Ghnhraly c. i. 

^ Mariette {Karnak, p. 15) calculated that this temple, whose major axis from 
the pylon to the sanctuary hardly exceeded 300 feet in length, must have contained 
572 statues, all in black granite, and differing but little in size and execution. If 
placed in rows against the walls, and here and there in a double row, their elbows 
would almost have touched one another. The first and second courts, and the two 
long corridors which bound the temple to the east and west, were full of them. One 
of these figures is represented in our Fig. 39, Vol. I. . 

The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture. 277 

devotional objects produced in mechanical fashion, and there is little 
chance of finding a masterpiece of sculpture among them. In an 
inscription at Karnak we find Thothmes III. boasting of having 
endowed the temple with a statue of Amen ** such that no other 
temple could show one equal to it." ^ This Amen must have 
excelled its rivals in richness of material and in perfection of 
polish. It is unlikely that it was much superior to them in 
nobility or true beauty. 

The position occupied by the statue in the cella of a Greek 
temple finds something like a parallel, however, in the rock-cut 
temples of Nubia. We allude to these groups of three or four 
figures, carved in the living rock, which have been found seated in 
the farthest recesses at Ipsamboul, Derri, and elsewhere. These 
figures are now so mutilated that their merit as works of art 
cannot be decided. 

We may safely say that if the temples proper, such as those of 
Karnak and Luxor, had contained master-statues corresponding 
in any way to those of the Greeks, they would have been of 
colossal size. But although the soil of Thebes is almost paved 
with the fragments of royal colossi, not a single vestige of any 
gigantic statue of Amen has ever been discovered. All that we 
know of those few divine statues to which special veneration was 
paid excludes any idea of size exceeding that of man. The statues 
of Amen and Khons, at Thebes and Napata, which nodded their 
approval when consulted by the king as to his future plans, were 
certainly not colossi.^ And as for the figure of Khons, which took 
a voyage into Syria to cure the sister-in-law of one of the latter 
Ramessids, we can hardly believe it was more than a statuette.^ 

In spite of their number the statues of the gods must have 
attracted much less attention than those of the kings. The 
Pharaoh who built a temple filled it with his own effigies ; his 
colossi sat before the gate, they helped to form those structural 
units which we call Osiride piers, and figures of smaller size were 
ranged under the porticos. In that part of the Great Temple at 
Karnak which dates from the eighteenth dynasty, statues of 

' Mariette, Voyage dans la Haute-Agypte^ vol. ii. p. 25. 

' Maspero, Annuaire de V Association des itttides Grecquesj 1877, p. 132. 

^ See the often-quoted story of a voyage taken by a statue of Khons to the 
country of Bakhtan and its return to Egypt. De Rouge, Atude sur un StUe 
Egyptienne appartenant h la Bibliothique Nationale^ 8vo, 1856. 

2 78 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Thothmes II L alone have been found to the number of several 
dozens ; their broken fragments may be identified in every corner.^ 

Among the countless votive offerings with which a great 
building like that at Karnak was filled, there were a few statues 
of private individuals. ** The right to erect statues in the temples 
belonged (as we should say) to the crown. We find therefore 
that most of the private statues found in the sacred inclosures are 
inscribed with a special formula : * Granted, by the king's favour, 
to so and so, the son of so and so . . / Permission to place a 
statue in a temple was only given as a reward for services rendered. 
The temple might be either that of the favoured individual's native 

town, or one for which he had peculiar veneration Civil and 

foreign wars, the decay of cities, and the destruction of idols by 
the Christians, have combined to render statues of private persons 
from public temples of very rare occurrence in our collections." ^ 

The tombs were the proper places for private statues ; we have 
seen that at Memphis they were set up in the courtyards and 
hidden in the serdabs, that at Thebes they were placed, either 
upright or sitting, in the depths of the hypogea.^ 

Figures in the round, whether gods, kings, or private persons, 
were always isolated. They were sometimes placed one by the 
side of the other, but they never formed groups in the strict sense 
of the word. In the whole of Egyptian sculpture there is but 
one group, that of the father, mother, and children ; and this was 
repeated without material change for thousands of years. The 
Egyptian artist can hardly be said to have composed or invented 
it ; it was, so to speak, imposed upon him by nature. Those 
groups which became so numerous in Hellenic art as soon as it 
arrived at maturity, in which various forms and opposed or 
complementary movements were so combined as to produce a 
just equilibrium, are absolutely wanting in Egypt. 

The Greeks were the first of the antique races to love the 
human form for itself, for the inherent beauty of its lines and 
attitudes. Certain traces of this sentiment are to be found in the 
decorative art of Egypt, in which motives that are at once 
ingenious and picturesque are often met with, but it is almost 
entirely absent from sculpture. Modelled forms are hardly ever 

' Mariette, Kamaky p. 36. See also his Abydos, Catalogue Geniral, § 2, p. 27. 
3 Maspero, in the Monuments de VArt Antique of Rayet. 
^ Description y Antiquites, vol. iii. p. 41. 

The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture. 279 

anything more than skilful tracings from reality. In the sepulchral 
system the sculptor supplies relays of bodies, stone mummies 
which may take the place of the embalmed corpse when it is 
worn out ; in the temples his business is to set up concrete 
symbols of an idea, emblems of one of the divine powers, or of 
the majesty of Pharaoh. 

The infinite number of combinations which may be obtained 
by the association of several persons of different ages and sexes 
in one action, makes the group the highest achievement of an art 
at once passionate and scientific, such as the sculpture of Greece 
and Florence. To such a height the Egyptians never soared, 
but they well understood the 
more or less conventional methods 
which are at the command of 
the sculptor. They produced 
figures in the round by thou- 
sands ; most of them were smaller 
than nature, many were life-size, 
while a few surpassed it with 
an audacity to which no parallel 
can be found elsewhere. Here 
and there we find a figure, no 
more than some three or four 
inches high, to which its maker 
has contrived to give a freedom 
of attitude, a breadth of execution, 

and a nnhilifv of nrp^enre whirh ^'°- 234-— Wooden statuette belonging lo 

ana a nooniiy oi presence wnicn j, Deisroche-Vemei. Drawn by Saint- 

are quite astonishing. Look, Ei»e Gautier. 

for instance, at the reproduction 

of a little wooden statuette which borders this page (Fig. 234) ; 
it is identical in size with the original. Its date is unknown, but 
we should be inclined to refer it to the Ancient Empire. The 
air of this little personage is so proud and dignified that he might 
well be a reduction from a colossus. 

What we call 6us/s, that is, figures which consist of nothing 
but the head and the upper part of the trunk, were not unknown 
to the Egyptians. All the descriptions mention the existence in 
the Ramesseum of two colossal busts of Rameses II., the one in 
black, the other in a parti-coloured black and red, granite. 

It would seem that all the colossi were of stone, especially of 

A History' OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

the harder kinds. Wood was used for life-size figures and 
statuettes, particularly the latter. Terra-cotta .coated with enamel 
was hardly used for anything but very small figures. It was the 
same with bronze, which was seldom employed in large figures. 
We do not know whether the Egyptians in their days of 
independence made bronzes as large and larger than life, as 
the Greeks constantly did. One of the largest pieces known is 
the Horus in the Posno collection (Fig. 44, Vol. I.). It is about 
three feet high. It forms a single casting with the exception 

Fig. 135. — Bronie cat. Driivn bj' Saint-Elme Gautier. 

of the arms, which were added afterwards. The finish of the head 
is remarkable, and the eyes appear to have been encrusted with 
enamel or some other precious material, which has since 
disappeared. The hands seem to have held some vessel for 
pouring libations which, being of silver or gold, must have been 
detached at a very early period. The execution recalls the finest 
style of the eighteenth dynasty. 

The highest use to which sculpture can be put is the rendering 
of the human figure, but Egyptian sculptors did not disdain to 
employ their chisels upon the portraiture of those animals which 

The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture. 281 

were objects of devotion in their country. We possess excellent 
representations of nnost of these ; the figure of a cat which we 
take from the cases of the Louvre is an average specimen 
(Fig. 235). The lion was equally well rendered. In the 
bas-reliefs we sometimes find him turned into a sort of heraldic 
animal by the addition of emblematic designs upon his Hanks and 
shoulders (Fig. 236) ; but, even where he is most simplified, 
his outlines and general movements are truthful in the main. 
Sometimes we find him in full relief, modelled with singular power 
and sincerity. This is the case with a bronze Hon which must 
once have formed a part of some kind of padlock, if we may 
judge from the few links of a chain which are still attached to it.^ 
Although this animal bears the ovals of Apries, and therefore 
belongs to the lowest period of Egyptian art, its style is vigorous 
in no common degree. 

Fig. 236. — Lion, fiou a Theban bas-relief ; from Piisse. 

The Egyptians were as much impressed as other eastern 
peoples by the strength and beauty of these animals, which in 
their days must have abounded in the deserts of Syria and 
Ethiopia. They were chosen to be the emblems of royal 
courage ; ^ a lion's head was placed upon the shoulders of Hobs, 
and that of a lioness upon the shoulders of Sekhet. Finally it 
was from the lion that the first idea of that fictitious animal which 
the Greeks called a sphinx, was taken. 

" At first the sphinx can have been nothing but a lion placed 
to guard the entrance to a temple. The combination of a man's 

^ Marjette, Jfotim tiu Musie, No. roio. 

' At Tell-el-Amama we find the lion marching by Ihe side of the Icing (Lepsius, 
DenkmiEkr, vol. vi. pi. loo). 



A History op Art in Ancient Egypt. 

head, which was always that of a king, with a lion's body, must 
have been a result of the national love for symbolism. The king 
himself, as represented by this association of physical with 
intellectual strength, acted as guardian of the building which 
he had founded. There was a radical distinction between the 
Greek sphinx and that of the Egyptians. The latter propounded 
no enigma to the passer-by, and the author of the treatise, Upon 
Isis and Osiris was in sympathy with his times when he wrote : 
* There was nothing behind the mysteries of the Egyptians but 
their philosophy, which >vas seen as if through a veil.. Thus they 
placed sphinxes before the gates of their temples, meaning by that 
to say that their theology contained all the secrets of wisdom 

Fig. 237. —Bronze lion, Boulak, Drawn by Bourgoin. 

under an enigmatic form.' Evidently, the Egyptians did not 
mean so much as is sometimes thought." ^ 

We have already reproduced many examples of what may be 
called the classic 'form of sphinx, his head covered with the klaft 
and his paws extended before him (Figs. 41 and 157, Vol. I.). But 
the type included several secondary varieties. Sometimes the 
forepaws are replaced by human hands holding symbolic objects 
(Figs. 227 and 238) ; sometimes the' head of a hawk is substituted 
for that of a man. The animals which form many of the dromoi 
at Karnak are called crio-sphinxes (Fig. 205, Vol. I.), but the 

* Marietie, Voyage dans la Haute-Agyptey vol. ii. p. 9. 

The Principal Themes of Egvptian Sculpture. 283 

name is an unhappy one, because they have nothing in common 
with a sphinx but the position. They are rams and nothing else. 

The Greek word (T^tVf is feminine. The sphinx with female 
breasts is, however, very rare in Egypt, Wilkinson only knew of 
one, in which the Queen Mut-neter of the eighteenth dynasty 
was represented.' 

The Egyptians were not content with confusing the figures of 
men and animals in their images of the gods, they combined those 
of quadrupeds and birds in the same fashion. Thus we some- 
times find wings upon the backs of gazelles and antelopes, and 
now and then a curious animal compounded of a hawk's head and 
a nondescript body (Fig. 239). Whether such fantastic quad- 
rupeds were consciously and deliberately invented by the Egyptian 

Fic, 238.— Sphinx with human hands. Bas-relief; from PrJise. 

artists or not, we have no means of deciding. In a period when 
there was none of that scientific culture which alone enables men 
to distinguish the possible from the impossible, they may well have 
believed in winged and bird-headed animals with four legs. For 
the Greeks of Homer's time, and even for their children's children, 
the chimera and his kindred were real. They knew where they 
lived, and they described their habits. In a picture at Beni- 
Hassan, these imaginary beasts are shown flying before the hunter, 
and mixed up with the undoubted denizens of the mountains and 

^ Upon the significance of the sphinx and its different varieties, see WiLKiNSohf, 
Manmrs and Customs, etc. vol. iii. pp. 308-312, Wilkinson brings togt:lher on 
a single plate (vol. ij. p. 93) all the fantastic animals invented by the Egyptians. 
See also MasperO, M'emoire sur la Mosdiqut de Paiestrine {Gazette Artk'eologique, 


284 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

deserts.^ Such representations must have been common upon 
those objects — partly manufactured in Egypt, partly imitated in 
Phoenicia — which the enterprising inhabitants of the latter country 
distributed all over Western Asia, and the basin of the Mediter- 
ranean. They had a large share of that mystic and enigmatic 

Fig. 239. — Quadruped with the head of a bird. From Champollion, pi. 428 bis. 

character which has always been an attraction in the eye of the 
decorator. They may have helped to develop a belief that the 
curious beings represented upon them existed in some corner of 
the world, and they certainly did much to form those decorative 
types which have been handed down through Greece to the 
modern ornamentist. 

§ 7. The Technique of the Bas-reliefs, 

Work in low relief held such an important place in the affections 
of the Egyptian sculptor that we must study its processes in some 

In the first place, it was almost invariably painted. Those 
bas-reliefs w^hich show no trace of colour may be looked upon 
as unfinished. 

Secondly, the depth of the relief varied as much as it could, from 
the almost detached figures of the Osiride piers to the delicate 
salience of the carvings upon the steles and tomb-walls. A few 
works in very high relief have been found in the mastabas (Fig. 
T20, Vol. I.),^ but they are quite exceptional ; the depth is usually. 

^ Maspero, Zes Peintures des Tombeaux Agypiiens et la Mosdique de PahstrinCy 
p. 82 {Gazette Archio/ogique, 1879). 

2 See also Lepsius, Denkmceler^ part ii. pi. 11, and a tomb at El Kab {Eilithyia\ 
Marieti'e {Voyage dans la JfauteJ&gyptej plate 6 and page 37) cites, as a curious 

The Technique of the Bas-reliefs. 285 

from two to three millimetres. It is the same with the Theban 
tombs. It is only in the life-size figures that the relief becomes as 
much as a centimetre, or a centimetre and a half in depth ; 
articulations, the borders of drapery, and the bounding lines of 
the contour, are indicated with much less salience. 

The processes used in Egyptian reliefs were three in number, 
one of those three, at least, being almost unknown elsewhere. 

The commonest of the three is the same as that in favour with 
the Greeks, by which the figures are left standing out from a 
smooth bed, which is sometimes slightly hollowed in the neigh- 
bourhood of their contours. When limestone was used, this 
method was almost always preferred, as that material allowed the 
beds to be dressed without any difficulty. 

Sometimes, on the other hand, the figure is modelled in relief in 
a sunk hollow, which is from half an inch to an inch and a half 
deep (Fig. 240). This method of proceeding, which is peculiar 
to Egypt, was doubtless suggested by the desire to protect the 
image as much as possible. For this purpose it was singularly 
efficient, the high ** bed '* of the relief guarding it both from 
accidental injury, and from the effects of weather and time. It 
had one disadvantage, however, in the confusing shadows which 
obscured a part of the modelling. This process was used, as a rule, 
for the carvings on granite and basalt sarcophagi (Fig. 195, Vol. I.). 
It would have cost too much time and labour to have sunk and 
polished the surrounding surfaces. This method, when once taken 
up, was extended to limestone, and thus we find, among those 
objects in the Louvre which were discovered in the Serapeum, a 
stele of extremely delicate workmanship, representing Amasis in 
adoration before an apis. The head of Amasis is damaged, 
and we have preferred to give as a specimen the fine head of 
Rameses II., chiselled in a slab of limestone, which is also in 
the Louvre (Fig. 240). 

In the third system the surface of the figures and the bed, or 
field, of the relief are kept on one level. The contours are 
indicated by hollow lines cut into the stone. In this case there is 
very little modelling. There is not enough depth to enable the 
sculptor to indicate different planes, and his work becomes little 

example of a bolder relief than usual, the scenes sculptured upon the tomb of 
Sabou, especially the picture showing the servants of the defunct carrying a 
gazelle upon their shoulders. 

286 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

more than a silhouette in which the outline is shown by a hollow 
instead of by the stroke of a pencil or brush. When more rapid 
progress than usual had to be made the Egyptian artist was 
content with this outline. Most of those vast historical and 
biographical scenes which cover the walls of the Ramesseum and 
Medinet-Abou (Fig. 173, Vol. I.), were executed by it 

Fic. 240. — Portrait of Rune^.es II., Lonvre. Drawn by Snint-Elme Gautier. 

Most of our existing reliefs have come from tombs. In the 
mastabas their production was easy enough. The sculptor simply 
carved the faces of their limestone walls. But in the hypogea the 
difficulties were frequently great, and yet they were always 
surmounted. The bas-reliefs in such places were, as a rule, on a 
small scale. Consequently, the knobs of flint and the petrified 
shells with which the sculptor's chisel was continually coming in 
contact, must have embarrassed him in no slight degree. Where- 
ever such unkindly lumps were found, they were extracted from 

The Technique of the Bas-reliefs. 287 

the rock, the rough holes which they left were squared and filled 
up either with a cement which became very hard with time, or 
with pieces of stone accurately adjusted. In the latter case, the 
joints have been made with such care that it is very difficult to 
discover them. In some tomb chambers these insertions are so 
numerous that they make up not less than a quarter of the 
whole surface.^ 

As soon as the carvings upon the walls were finished, the latter 
were covered with a thin layer of stucco. This was hardly ever 
omitted ; it was laid upon rock, cement, and limestone indis- 
criminately. It afforded a better and a more tenacious ground for 
coloured decoration than the naked stone.^ 

The principal place in these bas-reliefs is occupied by human 
figures, and after them by those of animals. The accessories, such 
as the landscape and inanimate objects are for the most part only 
slightly indicated, all the labours of agriculture are illustrated, but 
only so far as the action of man is immediately concerned. There 
is never more in the way of background than is absolutely 
necessary for the right comprehension of the scene.^ The Greeks 
followed the same rule. In this respect the Egyptians were well 
advised. Their artistic instincts must have warned them of the 
true conditions of work in relief, which cannot, without the 
greatest peril, attempt to rival the complex achievements of 

To this practice we might suggest a few exceptions, in certain 
chiselled pictures at Tell-el-Amarna, and even Thebes itself, in 
which the artist seems to have amused himself by reproducing the 
beauties of nature, of groves and gardens surrounding palaces and 
humbler dwellings, partly for their own sake, partly attracted by 
some unwonted aspects of the scene which seem to have been 
borrowed from neighbouring countries. 

In most cases the Egyptian sculptor made man the centre and 
raison d'etre of his work, and yet, here and there, he shows himself 
curiously solicitous as to the effective arrangement of the scene 

^ Description de VAgypte^ Antiquites^ vol. iii. p. 42. 

2 Belzoni {Narrative of the Operations^ etc. pp. 343-365) mentions the presence 
of this stucco upon the colossi of Rameses at Ipsamboul as well as on the walls 
of the tombs in the Bab el-Molouk. 

* This point is very well brought out by Rhind {Thebes^ its Tombs and their 
Tenants, etc., pp. 24-25). 

288 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

about him. It is not without reason, therefore, that some have 
found in the Egyptian bas-relief, the origin, the first rough sketch, 
of those landscapes of which Hellenistic^ or as some would say, 
Alexandrian^ art was so fond. One of the most famous of these 
is the Palestrina mosaic^ which presents us with an Egyptian 
landscape during the inundation ; its buildings, its animals, and the 
curious scenes caused by the rising Nile, are rendered with great 

§ 8. Gems. 

A highly civilized society like that of Egypt even in the days 
of the Ancient Empire, must have felt the necessity for some kind 
of seal. The names and images engraved upon rings must have 
been used as signatures even at that early date. We know that 
from that time forward the impressions thus made upon wax and 
clay were employed in business and other transactions. No 
engraved stones have come down to us from the early dynasties, 
and yet their production must have been easy enough to those who 
carved the diorite statue of Chephren. Under the first Theban 
Empire, the Egyptians practised the cutting of amethysts, 
cornelians, garnets, jasper, lapis-lazuli, green-spar and white feld- 
spar, obsidian, serpentine, steatite, rock crystal, red quartz, 
sardonyx, &c.2 We do not know whether those early workmen 
employed the lapidary's wheel or not,^ but we may safely say that 
they produced some of the finest works of the kind which are 
known to us. The annexed illustration of one of the rarest 
treasures of the Egyptian collection in the Louvre, will bear out 
our words (Fig. 241). 

*' A gold ring with a movable square stone, a sardonyx, upon 
which a personage seated before an altar is engraved with extra- 

1 M. Maspero was the first to start this theory in his paper entitled Les Peintures 
des Tomheaux Egyptiens et la Mosaique de Palestrine, 

2 Birch, Guide to {British) Museum, pp. 70-74. — Pierret, Catalogue de la Salle 
Hisioriqu€ y'^os. 457, 559,/<7f^/V;/. 

^ M. Soldi remarks, in connection with the Mexicans, that they managed to cut 
the hardest rocks and to engrave finely upon the emerald with nothing but bronze 
tools. Prescott and Humboldt bear witness to the same fact. The Peruvians also 
succeeded in piercing emeralds without iron. Their instrument is said to have been 
the pointed leaf of a wild plantain, used with fine sand and water. With such 
a tool the one condition of success was time {Les Arts Meconnus^ pp. 352-359). 


Gems. 289 

ordinary finish. The altar bears the name Ha-ro-bes. The figure 
is clothed in a sehenti ; a thick necklace is about his neck: his 
hair is in short thick curls : his legs are largely and firmly dra>vn. 

"We are helped to the date of this little work by the engraving 
on the reverse, which represents a king wearing the red crown and 
armed with a mace, with which he is about to strike an enemy 
whom he grasps by the hair. The name of this king is engraved 
beside him: Ra-en-ma, ^zX. is Amenemhat III. The workman- 
ship of this face is, perhaps, inferior to that of the obverse, the 
forms are comparatively meagre and dry ; it is however far from 
being bad."^ 

The cornelian statuette of Ousourtesen I., which the Louvre has 
unhappily lost, belonged to the same period. In the three days of 

July, 1830, a terrible fire was directed upon the crowd by the 
Swiss stationed in the colonnade of the Louvre. The assailants 
succeeded, however, in penetrating into the palace and invading the 
galleries. After their final retirement the only thing which was 
ascertained beyond a doubt to be missing, was this little statuette, 
which has never been heard of since. It was equally valuable for 
its rarity and the beauty of its workmanship.^ 

The artists of the Second Theban Empire do not seem to have 
excelled those of the first, but their works have come down to us 
in much greater numbers. The Louvre possesses a considerable 
number of rings engraved with the names Thothmes, Amenophis, 

' PiERRET, Catalogue de la Salle Htstorique, No. 457. 

' A description of it will be found in Champollion, Notice Descriptive des 
Monuments Egyptiem du Musk Charles X., and edition, 1827, d. No. 14, p. 55. 
VOL. ir. P P 

290 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt 

and others belonging to the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties. 
Their character may be divined from two examples. 

"In 1877 the Louvre obtained the stone of a ring finely 
engraved on each side with representations of the Pharaoh 
Thothmes II. It is a green jasper, quadrangular in shape. On 
one side the Pharaoh, designated by his name Aa-kheper-ra^ has 
seized a lion by the tail and is about to strike it with his mace. 

This scene is emblematic of the victorious and fearless strength of 
the sovereign. Its rarity is extreme. Its significance is enforced 
by the word kuen or valour (Fig. 243). On the other side 
Thothmes is shown discharging his arrows from the commanding 
height of his chariot against the enemies who face him ; one falls 
backwards, another is being trampled under the feet of the king's 
horses (Fig. 244). Such a representation is common enough upon 

Fig. X45.— Seal or Armais. Louvre. Actual size. 

the outsides of the temples, but it is not often found upon little 
objects like these." ' 

Sometimes the ring is all of one material, characters and figures 
being cut in the metal of which it consists. It is so in the case of 

' P. PiERRET, Une Pierre Gravee au Norn du Roi d'Agypte Tkoutmh II. 
(Gatttte Anhhlogique, 1878, p. 41). This stone is placed in Case P of the Sal/e 
Ifistoriqtu in the Louvre. M. Lenormant has kindly placed at our disposal the 
dickis of the double engraving which was made for M. Pierret's article. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 291 

the most conspicuous object among the Egyptian jewels in the 
Louvre (Fig. 245), an object which can never have been intended 
for the finger ; it is too large : it must have been made for 
use only as a seal. It is thus described by M. Pierret : '* Seal 
formed of a ring and movable bezel, both of gold. Upon one 
face of the bezel the oval of King Armais, the last prince of the 
eighteenth dynasty, is engraved. Upon the other a lion passant, 
the emblem of royal power ; it is surmounted by the words Nep- 
khopeschy lord of valour. Upon the third and fourth sides are 
a scorpion and a crocodile respectively. The execution of this 
little work is admirable ; the design and action of the lion 
are especially fine." ^ 

The ring given by Pharaoh to Joseph as a sign of the authority 
delegated to him, may have been such as this.^ The cheapest 
rings had bezels of faience or schist covered with Enamel. The 
scarabs were cut as a rule from soft stone. 

In gem-cutting the Egyptians made use both of the intaglio 
process and of relief, but the greater fitness of the former for the 
work to be done by a signet made it their especial favourite. 
They were ignorant of the process we call cameo, in which the 
differently coloured layers of the sardonyx are taken advantage of 
to produce contrast of tint between the relief and its bed. 

A few Egyptian cylinders, in earthenware or soft stone enamelled, 
are known. They bear royal ovals ; the British Museum has 
one which seems to date from the twelfth dynasty. Their 
employment seems never to have become very general.^ 

§ 9. The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 

Whether it were employed upon wood, upon limestone, or upon 
the harder rocks, whether it were cutting colossi in the flanks 
of the sandstone hills, or carving the minute images of its gods 
and kings in the stone of a signet ring, the art of Egypt never 
shook itself free from those intellectual conceptions which were 
impressed upon its first creations ; it remained true to the 

^ Pierret, Catalogue de la Salle HistoriquCy No. 481. 
* Genesis xli. 42. 

' Birch, History of Ancient Pottery ^ p. 72. Pierret, Catalogue de la Salle 
Historique du Louvre, Nos. 499, 500, 505. 

292 A History, of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

tendencies of its infancy ; it preserved the same fundamental 
qualities and defects ; it looked upon nature with the same eyes, 
and interpreted her in the same fashion, from the first moment to 
the last. 

These methods and processes, and the conventionalities of 
artistic interpretation which maintained themselves through all the 
changes of taste, have still to be considered. They are the 
common features by which works which differ greatly in execution 
are brought into connection, and are to be found as clearly marked 
in a statue dating from the time of Amasis and Nectanebo as 
in one from the Ancient Empire. 

Some of the conventions of Egyptian art are to be explained by 
the constitution of the human mind and by the conditions under 
which it works when it attempts plastic reproductions for the first 
time ; others' appear to spring from certain habits of thought 
peculiar to Egyptian civilization. There is yet a third class 
which must be referred to purely technical causes, such as the 
capabilities of the materials and tools employed. The influence 
which these exercised over the artistic expression of thought has 
been too often underrated. We shall endeavour to recognize 
their full importance. 

When we glance at an Egyptian bas-relief, we perceive in it 
certain imperfections of rendering which we may have often 
noticed before, either in the early works of other races or in the 
formless designs which quite young children scribble upon paper. 
The infancy of art and the art of infancy have much in common. 

We are accustomed to processes which are scientifically exact. 
Profiting by the accumulated learning of so many centuries even 
the school-boy, among us, understands perspective. We are, there- 
fore, apt to feel too much surprise at the awkwardness and inaccuracy 
which we find in the works of primitive schools, in transcripts 
produced by man in the presence of nature without any help from 
the experience of older civilizations. If we wish to do justice to 
those early artists, we must endeavour to realize the embarrassment 
which must have been theirs, when they attempted to reproduce 
upon a flat surface those bodies which offered themselves to their 
eyes with their three dimensions of height, width, and depth, and with 
all the complications arising from foreshortening and perspective, 
from play of light and shade, and from varied colour. Other 
perplexities must have arisen from the intersection and variety of 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 293 

lines, from the succession of planes, from the necessity for render- 
ing or at least suggesting the thickness of objects ! 

When the desire to imitate natural objects began to make itseli 
felt in man he received his first drawing lesson from the sun. 
Morning and evening its almost horizontal rays threw his silhouette 
sharply upon the white rocks and walls, and nothing was easier 
than to fix the outline of the image thus projected with a piece of 
charcoal or burnt wood ; after this beginning it was easy to imitate 
such a sun-picture either in large or in small. Such figures were 
of necessity profiles, as the silhouette given by a head viewed in 
front would be very uncertain and indistinct. 

The profiles of men and of the lower animals must, then, have 
played a chief part in these early efforts towards design. In this 
there is nothing at variance with our daily experience. The back 
view need hardly be taken into account, and there are two lateral 
positions, the right and left profiles, against one for the front face. 
Finally, the fact that the front face consists of two parts which 
have to be kept in absolute symmetry with one another, makes it 
much more difficult of treatment by the novice. Even in the 
productions of skilful artists we often find that this symmetry has 
been missed. It is the profile that is first attacked by beginners 
in the art of drawing, and it is the profile which always remains 
most comprehensible for simple intelligences. The fellah who is 
present at the opening of one of those tombs which were con- 
structed by his remote ancestors, at once recognizes the animals 
represented and the meaning of their attitudes and grouping. 
Wilkinson noticed this on several occasions. But if an European 
drawing be shown to the same man, he will be hopelessly 
bewildered by the foreshortening, the perspective, and the play of 
light and shade. He will no longer be able to distinguish a bull 
from a horse or an ass. 

In their bas-reliefs, and in their paintings, the Egyptian artists 
made almost exclusive use of the profile,^ but, by a singular 
compromise, we sometimes find it combined with an attitude of 

* In turning over the leaves of ChampoUion we have found but two exceptions to 
this rule. In the Temple of Seti, at Gournah, that king is shown, in a bas-relief, in 
the act of brandishing his mace over the heads of his prisoners. The group is the 
usual one, but in this case two of the vanquished are shown in full face (pi. 274). 
At the Ramesseum, also, one man in a long row of prisoners is shown in a similar 
attitude (pi. 332). 

294 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

body which would strictly require a full, or at least a three-quarter 
face. The silhouette in its integrity seems to have been thought 
insufficient, and the desire to reproduce a more complete image 
led them to invent the compromise in question. 

In Egyptian profiles the eye is drawn as if for a full face. 
It has been asserted that this is the result of profound calculation, 
that, " in spite of facts, the Egyptian painter chose to give pre- 
dominant importance to that organ in the human visage which is 
the window of the soul." ^ We believe that the true explanation is 
rather more simple. While the lines of the nose and mouth are 
more clearly marked in the profile than in the front face, it is in the 
latter only that the eye is able to display its full beauty. When 
seen from the side it is small, its lines are short and abrupt, and 
the slightest change in the position of the head affects its contours 
in a fashion which is very puzzling to the unlearned artist. When 
a child attempts to draw a head it gives their true form to the lips 
and the nose, but in nine cases out of ten it draws the eye as 
if seen in full face ; and art in its childhood did as children 
do still. 

We find a similar want of concord between the tj'unk and the 
limbs. Feet and legs are shown in profile while the body to which 
they belong stands squarely facing us. Both the shoulders are 
seen in equal fulness, and the attachment of the arms is often 
faulty (Fig. 246). Sometimes they seem to be broken at the 
shoulder. Again, the hands are nearly always in such a position 
as to exclude all doubt as to the number of fingers they possess. 

It appears, therefore, that the artist chose the aspect which 
seemed to him the most natural for each part of the body. It was 
the resulting contradiction that was against nature. The feeling 
from which it sprang was identical with that which led Egyptian 
artists to make what we may call " projections " when they wished 
to represent buildings. The fixed idea of the draughtsman was to 
show all the sides of his object at a glance, to exhibit details which 
in reality were partly hidden by each other. Thus we find that, in 
certain bas-reliefs, both clothes and the nudity which those clothes 
were intended to cover are carefully portrayed. In a bas-relief at 
Tell-el-Amarna, a queen who is waiting on Amenophis IV. is 
dressed in a long robe reaching to her feet, and yet all her forms 

* Ch. Blanc, Grammaire des Arts du Dessin^ p. 469. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 295 

are rendered with as much care and detail as if there were no veil 
between their beauty and the eye of the spectator (Fig. 247). 

An arbitrary combination of a similar character is employed by 
the Egyptian artist when he wishes to show a number of persons 
behind one another on a horizontal plane ; he places them vertically 
one above the other. The great battle pictures at Thebes are an 
instance of this (Fig. 1 3, Vol . I.). Enemies still fighting are mingled 
with dead and wounded into one confused heap in front of Pharaoh s 
car, and reach from top to bottom of the relief. The same con- 
vention is to be found in the ranks of prisoners, workmen, or 

o o 


Fig. 246. — Bas-relief from Sakkarah. Fifth dynasty. 

soldiers, marching over a flat surface ; they are arranged in a kind 
of echelon upon the field of the relief (Fig. 42).^ 

^ For other conventional methods, of a similar though even more remarkable 
kind but of less frequent occurrence, see Wilkinson, Manners and Customs^ etc., 
vol. ii. p. 295. The same ruling idea is found in those groups in the funerary bas- 
reliefs, which show husband and wife together. The wife's arm, which is passed 
round the body of the husband, is absurdly long (Lepsius, Denkmc^ler^ part 11, 
plates 13, 15, 91, 105, etc.; and our Figs. 164 and 165, Vol. L). This is because the 
sculptor wished to preserve the loving gesture in question without giving up the full 
view of both bodies to which his notions committed him. One could not be 
allowed to cover any part of the other, they could not even be brought too closely 
together. They were placed, therefore^ at such a distance apart that the hand 
which appears iround the husband's body is too far from the shoulder with which 
it is supposed to be connected. 

296 A HiSTORV OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Faulty though these conventions seem to us, they did not 
disturb the Egyptian spectator. He was famiUar with them by 
long usage, and his intellect easily re-established the true relation 
between the various parts of objects so strangely distorted. Even 
as art matured and as, in some respects, the skill of the Egyptian 
sculptor increased, he never felt himself impelled to abandon these 
primitive methods of interpretation. Graphic conventions are 

Fia. 34.7. — The Queen waiting on Amenophis IV. : Teli-el-Amamk From PriiM. 

like those belonging to written and spoken language ; when once 
established, even those which seem most absurd to the stranger 
are rendered acceptable by habit, and the native does not even 
suspect the existence of anomalies which bewilder the foreign 

Speaking generally, we may say that there is no perspective in 
Egyptian paintings and reliefs. And yet we find sincere efforts 
to render things in a less arbitrary fashion in certain works dating 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 297 

from the Second Theban Empire. Look, for instance, at the 
attempt made by an artist in the tomb of Chamhati to show five 
persons walking almost in line. Instead of being one above 
another they are on one level (Fig. 248). One of the five is 
rather behind the rest ; the head and most of his body are visible. 
The other four advance to their front. In order that they may 
all be seen, the sculptor has shown them as they would appear to 
one standing on their right and slightly in front ; the relief, 

Fig. 248, — Bas-relief from Che eighteenth djnusty. From Prisse. 

therefore, has four planes. The three farther figures are shown 
by the contours alone. This is perspective, although it is hardly 
correct. The retreating line of polls sinks as it should, but so do 
the elbows, and they ought to rise. 

This relief gives evidence of considerable progress and, suppos- 
ing it to be the first of its kind, the sculptor who made it would 
deserve the credit of having breathed a new life into Egyptian art. 
But he was not the first ; others had made use of the same 
method, but always within strictly defined limits. It was employed 


298 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

when a few persons had to be brought in who were all in one 
attitude and making the same gesture,^ but it was never used 
as a starting-point for modifications upon the traditional modes 
of rendering either isolated figures or groups of figures. The 
Egyptians made use of these until the last days of their civilization 
without ever appearing to suspect their childish character. 

In the case of animals, a firmly-drawn profile was enough to 
make them easily recognizable. And yet, even in the time of the 
Ancient Empire, we find distinct efforts to give some variety to 
these silhouettes. Sometimes the oxen turn their heads towards 
the spectator, sometimes they swing them round to their flanks, as 
if to chase away the flies : but even then the heads are shown in 
profile.^ At Beni- Hassan we find an advance upon this. In a 
hunting scene, a lion, who has just brought down an ibex, is 
shown full face,^ but neither here or anywhere else has an attempt 
been made to draw the body of the animal otherwise than in profile. 

In his family groups the Egyptian sculptor marked the 
superiority of the husband and father in a similarly naive fashion. 
He made him much taller than the persons about him. The 
same contrivance was employed to mark the distinction between 
gods or kings and ordinary men, and between the latter and 
animals (Fig. 57, Vol. I.). This solution of the problem is uni- 
versal in the infancy of art. It was adopted by the Assyrians, the 
Persians, the primitive Greeks, and our own ancestors of the 
middle ages. It is easier to give a figure double or threefold its 
proper size than to add greatly to the dignity and nobility of 
its character. 

In their desire to evade difficulties, the Egyptians slurred over 
distinctions upon which a more advanced art would have insisted. 
For them every man was in the prime of life, every woman 
possessed of the elegant contours of a marriageable virgin. In 
their work in the round they proved themselves capable of bring- 
ing out individuality, but they restricted their attentions to the 
face and hardly attempted to show how the passage of years affects 
the contours and the firmness of flesh in both sexes. In their 

^ Our Fig. 216 gives another instance of the emjployment of this method, and 
even in the time of the Ancient Empire the idea had occurred to the Egyptian 
artists (Fig. 200). 

* Lepsius, Denkmceier, part ii. pi. 47 and 61. 

* Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc. vol. ii. p. 88. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 299 

bas-reliefs and pictures, they employed outline only. The sub- 
stance of their figures was modelled neither materially nor in 
colour. With such feeble resources as these the artist would 
have had great difificulty in suggesting all the differences of age. 
He therefore took a middle course. To each sex he gave that 
appearance which seemed best calculated to bring out its peculiar 
beauties. The one he portrayed in the fulness of manhood, the 
other as a young girl. When it was necessary to determine the 
age of his subject with some precision he 
took refuge in such conventional signs as 
the finger in the mouth and the long lock 
of infancy (Fig. 249). 

The sculptors of the Ancient Empire, who 
laid such stress upon exact resemblance, seem 
to have now and then attempted to mark the 
advancing age of their models. The head 
of the great statue of Chephren is that of 
a man still young (Fig. 204) ; that of another 
statue of the same king betrays the approach 
of old age. This example does not seem to 
have been followed in later ages. We are 
tempted to think that each sovereign on his 
accession to the throne employed some artist 
of note to make his portrait. The latter 
would set himself to work ; would study his 
model at first hand, for Pharaoh would 
perhaps condescend to sit to him ; would . 
bring out the peculiarities of visage which he 
saw, and over the whole face and form of 
the king would spread that air of fiourishing 

vigour and youth which is common to nearly all the royal statues. 
An image would be thus elaborated which should combine both 
the truth of portraiture with the conventional semi-divine type. 
With the passage of time, according to the talent of the artist, 
and perhaps to the character of the royal features, one of these 
elements would encroach upon the other. But once established 
this image would become a kind of official and authentic standard 
of the royal appearance, and would serve as a model for all 
who might be charged during the rest of the reign with the 
reproduction of the king's person. 

3CX) A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

There are many facts which support this hypothesis. Among 
the countless images of Rameses II. for instance there are some 
which according to their inscriptions must have been executed 
when he was at least eighty years old ; and yet they show him 
as a young man. 

Almost the same thing takes place in our own times. In 
monarchical states the sovereign appears upon the coinage 
as he was at his accession. His features and the delicacy of 
his skin are unaffected by the years, for the die madte in his youth 
has to serve for his old age. We may almost say the same of the 
statues and busts in which the royal features are repeated in 
the public buildings and public places of the capital. A single 
portrait which has once been moderately faithful is repeated to 
infinity. We find it everywhere, upon paper, and canvas, and 
plaster, and marble, multiplied by every process that science 
has given to art. It keeps its official and accepted authenticity 
long after age, care, and disease, have made its original un- 

There is one convention peculiar to Egyptian art which is 
not to be accounted for so easily as the last named. So far as 
we know, no reason has ever yet been given for the almost 
invariable habit of making such figures as are supposed to be 
walking thrust their left legs forward. Almost the only exceptions 
are in the cases of those figures in the bas-reliefs which are 
turned to the spectator s left. The right Jeg is then thrust for- 
ward (Figs. 1 8, 24, &c.. Vol. I.). Among works in the round 
there is hardly an exception to the ordinary rule. Are we to look 
upon it as the effects of caprice ? of accident confirmed into a 
habit ? Or was it a result of a superstition analogous, or, rather, 
contrary to that of the Romans ? The latter always took care 
to cross a threshold with the right foot foremost ; in Egypt they 
may have attached the same ideas to the left foot. Egyptolo- 
gists should be able to tell us whether there is anything in the 
texts to suggest the existence of such a superstition. 

Apart from its ethnic characteristics, the work of the Egyptian 
sculptor is endowed with a peculiar physiognomy by a certain 
stiffness and rigidity which it hardly ever succeeds in shaking 

* M. iJ^MiLE Soldi {Za Sculpture AgypHenne) tells us that during the reign of 
Napoleon III. such representations of the Emperor as were not taken from the 
portrait by Winterhalter were forbidden to be recognized officially. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 301 

off, even when it represents figures in motion* A support in the 
shape of a column at the back is nearly always introduced ; the 
arms are held close to the sides ; a huge head-dress often enframes 
the head and hangs down upon the shoulders in two equal masses ; 
a long and narrow beard springs from under the chin and lies 
upon the chest. 

Freedom and variety of attitude is equally absent from the 
seated statues. The knees are brought together and the hands 
supported upon them. We never find an arm raised, a hand 
opened as if to give force to speech, or a leg stretched out to 
relieve the stiffness of the lines. There is no striving for that 
suppleness of limb and variety of pose which the Greeks contrived 
to obtain even in their Iconic figures. The face is often full of 
animation and individual vitality, the modelling of the trunk and 
limbs marvellously true and broad, but the body as a whole is too 
symmetrical in action and entirely without abandon. The natural 
movements which spring from ease and liberty are never employed. 
Forced and conventional attitudes are universal. 

A reason for this has been sought in the supremacy of the 
sacerdotal caste. The priests, we are told, must soon have 
adopted such a type^ or rather several varieties of such a type, 
as seemed to them expressive of their own ideas of man when 
deified by death, of the king as the son of the gods, of the gods 
themselves as the protectors of the Egyptian race. They 
imposed the perpetuation and constant reproduction of this type 
upon artists as a sacred duty, and thus the Egyptian style was 
hieratic in its origin and essence. 

Such an assertion is easily made. Hieratic is one of those 
convenient adjectives whose vagueness discourages critical 
examination. What evidence is there that ancient Egypt was 
ever a theocracy, in the proper sense of the word } Only once, 
during so many centuries, did the Egyptian priests attempt to 
encroach upon the privileges of the king. Towards the close 
of the twentieth dynasty the prophets of Amen, at Thebes, 
tried hard to substitute their own authority for that of the last 
of the Rameses,^ but the success of their usurpation was very 
shortlived. In Ethiopia alone, among a people much less highly 
civilized, sacerdotalism seems to have acquired an uncontested 
pre-eminence. In Egypt the king was always the first of the 

* Maspero, Histoire Ancienne^ p. 272. 

302 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

priests. With the help of an army of scribes and officials he 
governed the country and made war ; he initiated and carried 
on great public works ; he developed the industry and commerce 
of his subjects. Trade and conquest brought him into relation 
with surrounding peoples, and from them he recruited his armies 
and obtained agents of every kind. 

The active and warlike heads of a great empire like this were 
never the slaves of a despotic clergy. Such a society never allowed 
the mechanical reproduction of orthodox types to be forced upon 
its artists, until, indeed, its final decadence deprived it of all 
power to invent new forms. We have seen how great was the 
variety of plan and decoration in Egyptian religious architecture, 
from the marked simplicity of the temple near the sphinx, to 
the sumptuous majesty of the Theban buildings and the elegance 
of those of Sais. The style and taste of Egyptian sculpture 
underwent a change at each renascence of art. Why, then, 
did its practitioners remain faithful to certain conventional 
methods of interpretation, whose falsity tliey must have perceived, 
while they modified their work in so many other particulars ? 
No text has ever been put before us, I will not say from a 
Greek, but from an Egyptian source, which suggests that their 
hands were less free from religious prescription than those of the 

We agree with M. Emile Soldi, who was the first to throw 
doubt upon the accepted theories, that the explanation of the 
apparent anomaly is to be sought elsewhere.^ The tyranny from 
which the Egyptian sculptor never succeeded in completely 
freeing himself was not that of the priests but of the material 
in which he worked. Aided by his personal experience M. Soldi 
has put this fact very clearly before us. Being at once a sculptor, 
a medallist, and an engraver upon precious stones, he is enabled 
to judge at first hand of the influence which the material or tool 
employed may exercise over the style of a work of art. The 
style of such a work is the complex product of numerous and 
very different factors. To determine the part played by each of 
these factors is not always easy ; there are too many opportunities 
for error. We believe, however, that certain of the most peculiar 
and persistent characteristics of Egyptian sculpture are due 

* Emile Soldi, La Sculpture Agyptienne^ i vol. 8vo, 1876, copiously illustrated. 
(Ernest Leroux.) 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 303 


to the hardness of their material and the imperfection of the 
tools employed. 

We know the connection between the funerary statues of the 
Egyptians and their second life ; while those statues endured, 
the existence of the double was safe guarded. The more solid 
the statue, the better its chance ; if the former was indestructible 
the life dependent upon it would be. eternal. It was under the 
impulse of this idea that the Egyptians of the Ancient Empire 
attacked such unkindly materials as granite, diorite, and basalt. 
Such statues were beyond the reach of private individuals. 
They were reserved for royalty. Of all the works of the sculptor 
they were the most carefully and admirably wrought. They 
set the fashion, and helped to create those habits which did not 
lose their hold even when less rebellious substances came into 
use. How did they contrive to cut such hard rocks ? Even in 
our time it can only be done by dint of long and painful labour 
and with the aid of steel chisels of the finest temper. The work- 
man is obliged to stop every minute to renew the edge of his 
instrument. But it is agreed on all hands that the contemporaries 
of Chephren had to do without steel chisels. Egyptologists still 
discuss the question as to whether the Egyptians made use of 
iron or not, but even those who believe that its name occurs 
among the hieroglyphs admit that its introduction was late and 
its employment very restricted.^ The weapons and tools of the 
early Egyptians were of bronze when they were not of stone or 
hardened wood ; and it has never been proved that either the 
Egyptians or any other ancient people understood how to temper 
that metal in such a fashion that its hardness approached that 
of steel. Modern science has in vain searched for this secret.^ 
In any case it is only in a few rare instances, and upon remains 
from the New Empire, that the. peculiar markings left by the 
chisel have been discovered. Those statues and sarcophagi 
which have been cut from igneous rocks still bear traces which 
may be recognized by the eye of the connoisseur, of the processes 
which were employed by their makers. 

* See the note of M. Chabas, " Sur le twm du fer chez les Anciens JSgyptiens.^* 
{Compt^s Rendus de V Academic des Inscriptions^ January 23, 1874.) 

* Certain alloys, however, have recently been discovered which give a hardness 
far above that of ordinary bronze. The metal of the Uchatius gun, which has been 
adopted by Austria, is mixed, for instance, with a certain quantity of phosphorus. 


304 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

■ — ^^ • • I T - r - — "^ '- — ■ — |- - ^r-=m — w — ^^ — ii • 

*' Granite," says M. Soldi, '* is most easily worked by ham- 
mering its surface. To begin with, a heavy tool called a point is 
brought into play. This is driven into the material by repeated 
blows from the hammer, starring the surface of the granite, and 
driving off pieces on all sides. We believe that this ^oznl was 
the habitual instrument of the Egyptians, not only in roughing out 
their blocks,, but even in modelling a head-dress or sinking a 
hieroglyph. Such a tool could not trace clear and firm contours 
like those of the chisel, and the peculiar character of its workman- 
ship is to be easily recognized in the broken and irregular outline 
of many of the monuments in the Louvre." 

Another tool employed upon granite in these days is a kind of 
hammer, the head of which consists of several points symmetrically 
arranged. We may judge of its effects by the appearance of our 
curb stones, which are dressed by it ; there is nothing to show that 
it was used by the Egyptians. A kind of hatchet with two blades 
is also used for the same work, and it appears to have been 
employed by the Egyptians, "who used it hammer fashion, 
beating the surface of the material, and driving off chips of various 
sizes according to the weight of the instrument By these means 
the desired form could be given with sufficient rapidity and 
precision to make the chisel superfluous." Most of the Egyptian 
statues in hard stone seem to have been modelled by the help of 
an instrument of this kind. 

" The surfaces produced by such tools as these had to be 
polished, the sketchy roughness left by the point had to be taken 
down ; we find therefore that the Egyptians always polished their 

The Egyptians do not seem to have known either the file or 
the raspy a variety of file which is now greatly employed. The 
dry markings left by those tools are nowhere to be seen. In the 
case of broad surfaces it is probable that a polish was given by 
hand boards sprinkled with powdered sandstone and wetted 
through a hole in the middle. Flat stones may have sometimes 
replaced these wooden disks. When a more brilliant polish was 
required, emery must have been used. This substance was found 
in abundance in the islands of the Archipelago, and must have 
been brought to Egypt by the Phoenicians. Without It the 
Egyptian artists could not have produced their engraved gems. 

By dint of continually retempering the bronze and renewing its 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 305 

edge, the sculptors of the New Empire succeeded in cutting 
hieroglyphs upon a certain number of works in the harder rocks. 
Perhaps, too, iron may by that time have come into more general 
use, and they may have learnt how to give it extra hardness by 
tempering. But when granite and kindred materials had to be 
cut, the work was commenced with point and hammer as above 
described. In the case of some of those very large figures which 
had been rather roughly blocked out in the first instance, the final 
polishing has not quite obliterated the hollows left by those rude 
instruments in the stone, especially where the journeyman has 
struck a little too hard. An instance of this may be seen on 
the red granite sphinx in the Louvre (Fig. 41, Vol. I.). 

M. Soldi is inclined to think that at one period at least the 
Egyptians used stone weapons rather than metal ones in their 
attacks upon the harder rocks. He tells us that he himself 
has succeeded in cutting granites of various hardness with a 
common flint from the neighbourhood of Paris. He has done the 
same with diorite, both by driving off small chips from it and by 
pulverizing its surface with the help of jasper. ** This method," 
he adds, " is excessively long and tedious, and the jasper, though 
harder than the diorite, is greatly damaged in the process. But 
yet it proves that a statue may be produced in such fashion, by 
dint of a great consumption of time and patience.'*^ We must 
also remember that the hardest rocks are easier to cut when they 
are first drawn from the quarry, than after they have been exposed 
for a time to the air. 

The colours in the bas-reliefs are too much conventionalized to 
be of any use in helping us to determine the material of which 
Egyptian implements were made. But the forms of all the tools 
of which we have been speaking are to be found there. A bas- 
relief in the tomb of Ti, in which the manufacture of sepulchral 
statues is shown, is the oldest monument which may be quoted in 
support of our remarks (Fig. 250), On the left two journeymen 
are roughly blocking out a statue. Each holds in his left hand ^ a 
long and slender tool which cannot be other than a chisel ; this he 
strikes with a hammer. Two more are at work polishing another 
statue, upon which the chisel has finished its work. It is im- 
possible to say whether the egg-shaped tools which they use are of 

* Soldi, Les Arts Meconnus^ p. 492. (i vol. 8vo, Leroux, 188 1.) 
2 It has escaped M. Perrot's notice that one is left-handed. — Ed. 



A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

stone or wood. As for the statues themselves they must be 
limestone figures similar to those which were actually found in 
the tomb of Ti (Fig. 183). In the tomb of Obai, at Gournah, 
we see a sculptor modelling the fore-paws of a lion (Fig. 251). 
His blows are vertical instead of horizontal, but his instruments 
are identical with those shown in the tomb of Ti. From the fifth 
dynasty to the time of the Rameses, the same bronze chisel and 
pear-shaped mallet had held their own.^ 

Two paintings at Thebes show us the process of executing a 
royal colossus in granite (Figs. 252 and 253). Standing upon the 
plinth and upon the planks of a scaffold, several workmen do their 
best to hasten the completion of the work, which is already far 
advanced. Seated upon the topmost pole of the scaffold one 

Fig. 250.— Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti. 

workman is busy polishing the front of the pschent; another 
stands behind the image, and, holding his palette in one hand and 
his brush in the other, spreads his colours upon its posterior 
support. It may be asked what the man is doing who is engaged 
with both hands upon the chest of the statue. For an answer to 
that question we must turn to the second picture, in which we are 
shown a seated colossus under the hands of its makers. The 
workman who kneels before its head is making use of two imple- 
ments. With his left hand he applies to the face of the statue a 
pointed instrument, which he is about to strike with the object 

^ Upon the different kinds of chisels used by the Egyptian sculptors, see Soldi, 
La Sculpture Agyptienne^ pp. 53 and tii. He includes the toothed chisel and 
the gouge. 

The Principal Conventions in Egvptian Sculpture. 307 

held in his right. This action will cause splinters to fly from the 
granite. These two instruments are the same as those wielded by 
the workman who leans upon the chest of the standing colossus. 
The latter seems, however, lo pause for a moment's consideration 
before proceeding with his wofk. One of these tools is the point 
of stone or metal, the other acts ^s mallet or hammer. The same 
tool is to be recognised in the h^nd of the man who is at work 
upon the seat of the statue ; he, however, uses it without any 
hammer.^ Leaning upon one of the cf^ss-pieces of the scaffolding 
he beats with all his force upon the stone. The work was perhaps 

Fig. 251. — Bas-relief at Thebes (Champollion, pi. i8o). 

begun in this fashion. In the same tomb the representation of a 
sphinx receiving the final touches which is figured above occurs 
(Fig. 254). In this painting the polishing tool is a disk, similar to 
that in use by one of the workmen in Fig. 253. The figure on 
the left carries in a saucer the powder used for polishing the 
granite. In his right hand he holds a kind of brush which was 
used for spreading the powder upon the surfaces to be rubbed. 

* This man's attitude, the shape of the tool in question, and the general sig- 
nificance of the composition, seem rather to suggest that he is giving the final 
polish to the surface of the statue. Compare him with the pschent-polisher in 
Figr 252. — Ed. 


A HrsTORV OF Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Fig. 255 shows a workman fashioning a tet with a kind of hatchet 
or mattock, which he uses much as if it were a mallet. 

The only doubt that remains is as to the material employed by 
the Egyptian sculptors in their attacks upon the granite. Were 

their mallets and points of stone or of metal ? They could only 
dispose of instruments which, with the exception of the chisel, 
were incompatible with really delicate workmanship. With the 
latter instrument the skilful carver can obtain any effect 'he 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 309 

requires from a material which is neither too hard nor too soft — 
such as marble ; but the rocks from which the Egyptians struck 
their finest work do not lend themselves kindly to the chisel. To 

Fig. 353. — Pdnlingal Thebes (Champoll ion, pi. i6i). 

obtain the effects required they had to expend as much time and 
patience upon them as upon their works of architecture. But in 
spite of the industry and skill of workmen who did not count 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

their hours, there must always have been a certain inequality and 
rudeness in works carried out by instruments that bruised and 
shattered rather than cut The stubbornness of the material, and 
the defects of the tools employed, had a double consequence. In 
order to avoid all danger of spoiling his figure when roughing it 
out, the artist was compelled to err on the side of over solidity 
and heaviness ; he was obliged to multiply the points of support, 
and to avoid anything like delicacy or slightness of parts. On the 
other hand, he was forced to fine down and almost to obliterate 
the suggestive contours of the living form by the final polish, in 
order to correct the irregularities due to the rude and uncertain 
nature of his implements. 

Fig. 254.— Painling at Thebes (Champollion, pi. 161). 

All this explains the absolute necessity for the supporting blocks 
reserved by the Egyptian sculptor at the back of his statues, and 
for the great massiveness of their forms. To begin with, the com- 
parative slenderness of the attachment between the head and the 
body was an element of danger. The repeated blows struck by 
the mallet upon the point might break it off unless precautions 
were taken. We find, therefore, that the klaft head-dress was 
introduced as often as possible. Its large ends fell down upon 
each breast, and acted as buttresses to the head. When the klaft 
was not used the hair was brought together in a solid mass, and, 
falling to the shoulders, gave strength to the neck. We may say 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 311 

the same of the long, and thick beard, the shape of which was 
modified under the pressure of the same necessity. It is never 
disengaged and turned up at the end, as we see it in the paintings. 
.... The head covering, which is sometimes very tall and slender, 
is always supported at the back for nearly the whole of its height 
and width. The figure itself is supported either at the back or the 
side by a pier of varying thickness. . . ." ^ The stone is left 
between the two legs when one is thrust forward, between the 
arms and the side, and in the hollows above the hips. Nothing 
could have been easier than to remove these masses, after the 
work was otherwise complete, by means of the drill. But that 

Fig. 25s.— Painting ;it Thebes (Champollionj-pl. i86). 

instrument, by which the necessary holes could have been made 
without dangerous shocks, was certainly unknown to the Egyptians. 
They could only have removed the masses in question by the 
striking processes we have mentioned, processes which might 
result in the breaking of an arm or a leg. The hardest materials 
are also, in a sense, the most brittle. If it was difficult for the 
sculptor to free the limbs and head of his statue from the rock in 
which they were partly imprisoned, how much more difficult, nay, 
how impossible, it must have been to give them any energetic 
movement — that of running, for instance, or fighting. The beauty 

^ E. Soldi, La Sculpture Agyptienne^ pp. 41, 42. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

and expressiveness of such movements did not escape his obser- 
vation, but a want of material resources compelled him to forego 
their reproduction. 

The truth of these observations is confirmed by the fact that 
when the chisel came to be used upon less unkindly materials, the 
Egyptian sculptor shook himself free of more than one of those 
despotic conventions which tyrannized over the makers of the 
royal colossi. The wooden statues have no supporting mass at 
the back or side ; the legs are separated and free ; the arms are 
no longer fixed to the sides, but are often bent into easy positions 

(Fig. 7, Vol. I., and Fig. 178). We 
may say the same of bronze (Figs. 
179 and 180). We may judge 
of the freedom which was often 
given to works in the latter mate- 
rial by the beautiful little statuette 
figured upon this page (Fig. 256). 
The limestone figures are not 
so free. Convenient instruments 
for ridding them of superfluous 
stone were wanting, and, more- 
over, there was a certain tempta- 
tion to imitate those statues in the 
harder rocks which were looked 
upon as the highest achievements 
of the national art. The figures 
were often supported by a mass of 
stone in which the posterior sur- 
faces of the legs were imbedded. 
Sometimes, however, this sup- 
port was absent, and in that case attitudes became extremely 
various (Fig 48, Vol. I., and Figs. 192, 194, 195, Vol. II.), 
perfect ease and suppleness being often attained. Further con- 
firmation of our theory is afforded by those little ornamental 
articles which may be referred to the industrial rather than the 
fine arts. In them we find the figures of men and animals intro- 
duced with the most playful and easy skill. The spontaneity of 
their grouping and the facility with which the most lively actions 
are pressed into the service of the artist, are remarkable. The 
graceful and almost athletic figures of swimming girls which form 

Fig. 256. — Bronze statuette. Actual size. 


The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 313 

the handles of so many perfume spoons may be given as instances 
of this (Fig, 257). The qualities which are so conspicuous in 
these little works are absent from the 
official and monumental art of Egypt, be- ' 
cause the materials and tools employed 
hindered their development and pre- 
vented the happy genius of the Egyptian 
people from reaching complete fruition. 

This influence is to be recognized in 
the modelling as well as in the pose of 
Egyptian statues : their general forms 

are fairly well understood and expressed, -S 

but there is none of that power to o 

suggest the muscles under the skin, and S 

the bones under the muscles, which dis- ■^ 

tinguishes Greek sculpture. The sup- m 

pleness and elasticity of living flesh are ■? 

entirely wanting. Everything is in its a 

place, but details are as much suppressed 

as if the work were to be seen at a dis- | 

tance at which they would be invisible. J 

The admirable portraits which have 
been unearthed in such numbers and 
the skilful modelling of many an isolated 
work, prove that it was neither the 
power of observation nor that of manipu- 
lation that was wanting. Why, then, 
was it that the Egyptians failed to i? 

advance farther upon the road that led 2 

to mastery in their art ? It was due to 
their infatuation for granite. Even when 
they worked in soft stone their manipu- 
lation was governed by the capabilities 
of the more stubborn material. The 
chisel alone can give those truthful and 
delicate contours without which no sculp- 
ture can reach perfection, and the chisel 
could hardly be used on any material but 

limestone or wood. The granite or basalt statue, roughly blocked 
out with tools which imperfectly obeyed the hand, could only be 

314 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

brought to completion with the sand or emery of the polisher. N o 
refinement of execution could be hoped for under such conditions. 
Every surface was flattened and every expressive ridge smoothed 
down, and the appearance of superficial finish thus obtained 
involved many sacrifices. 

The abuse of this latter process is one of the great defects of 
Egyptian technique ; but there was another, and, perhaps, more 
potent cause of failure. The method of writing adopted by the 
Egyptians, and elaborated at a very early date, must have had a 
greater effect upon their plastic arts than has generally been sup- 
posed. The characters employed by them, at least in monumental 
situations, were not merely symbols of sounds, as the characters of 
later syllabic or alphabetic forms of writing became ; they were 
direct images of objects. Practical requirements soon led to the 
simplification of such objects, to the suppression of all details 
beyond those necessary for identification. The figures employed 
were thus soon reduced to mere empty outlines. Shadow and 
colour, all those details which distinguish the species of a genus 
and the individuals of a species, were carefully and systematically 
eliminated. The sign which stood for a lion or a man, was the 
same for all lions and all men, although between one man or one 
lion and another there are differences of stature, of age, of colour, 
of strength, and of beauty. 

Now, in the early ages of Egyptian civilization, when the 
hieroglyphs in the Memphite necropolis were chiselled in relief, the 
same hand must have been employed upon the portraits of ^ny 
particular inhabitants of a tomb and upon the inscriptions which 
accompanied them. Thus we find upon the panels from the tomb 
of Hosi (Figs. 174-6), that there is no appreciable difference 
between the technique of the figures and of the accompanying 
characters. The same firm and lively handling is visible in both. 
The images which play the part of written characters are much 
smaller than the three portraits, and that is all. The crafts of 
scribe and sculptor were thus combined in one man ; his chisel 
traced indifferently funerary portraits and hieroglyphs. When 
the use of papyrus led to much and rapid writing, the two 
professions were separated. The scribe wrote sometimes with the 
kalem upon papyrus, sometimes with the brush or the point upon 
wood, stucco, or stone. But he always found enough to do in his 
own profession without combining it with another. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 315 

Sculptors and painters multiplied on their side with the 
multiplication of the royal and divine images ; they represented 
the king fighting against the enemies of Egypt or returning 
thanks to the gods for their assistance, and the king's subjects 
accompanying him to battle, or busied over the varied labours of a 
civilized society. They had to observe life and to study nature. 
By dint of so doing they created a style, a certain method of 
looking at and interpreting natural facts which became common to 
all the artists of Egypt. One of the most striking features of 
this style is the continual endeavour to strip form of all that 
is accidental and particular, to generalize and simplify it as much 
as possible, a tendency which finds a very natural explanation in 
the early endeavours of the Egyptians to represent, in their writing, 
the concrete shapes of every being in earth or sky. This habit of 
making plastic epitomes of men and animals, and even of inanimate 
things, was confirmed by the persistent use of ideographic characters 
during all the centuries of Egyptian civilization. The profession 
of the scribe was in time separated from that of the sculptor, but 
the later preserved some of the marked characteristics which 
it put on before this division of labour was finally established. 
The Egyptian eye had become accustomed to see things repre- 
sented in that simplified aspect of which the hieroglyphs are so 
striking an example, and to deprive individuals, by a kind of 
unconscious abstraction, of those details by which they stood out 
from their species as a whole. 

The most original features of Egyptian sculpture and its arrested 
development must, then, be referred, on the one hand to the nature 
of the materials employed, and, on the other, to the habits con- 
tracted during many centuries of ideographic writing.^ It has long 
been the fashion to attribute capital importance to what is called 
a canon, in describing the origin of the Egyptian style. The 
ideas which have been published on this question seem to uS 
manifestly exaggerated ; we must examine them a little closely. 

The word canon comes from the Greek Kavmvy a rule. As 
applied to the arts it has been defined as " a system of measure- 
ments by the use of which it should be possible to tell the size of 
any part by that of the whole, or the size of the whole by that of 

' M. Ch. Blanc had a glimmering of the great influence exercised over the 
plastic style of Egypt by the hieroglyphs ; see his Voyage dans la Ilaute-Agypte^ 

P- 354. 

3i6 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

any one of its parts." ^ The idea of proportion, upon which every 
canon must rest, is a creation of the brain. A canon, therefore, is 
the result of those searching and comprehensive generalizations of 
which only races with great intellectual gifts are capable. Each 
of the arts may have its canon, or rule of proportion, establishing 
a proper relation between all the elements of its creations and 
easily expressible in figures. 

The finest examples of a canon as applied to architecture are 
furnished by the Greek orders. Given the smallest member of an 
Ionic or Doric order, the dimensions of all the other members 
of the column and its entablature may be calculated with almost 
complete accuracy. There is nothing of the kind in Eg'yptian 
architecture. There is no constant proportion between the heights 
and thicknesses of the shaft, the capital, and the entablature; 
there is no constant relation between their shapes. In a single 
building, and in a single order, we find proportions varying between 
one hall or court and another. 

The word canon has an analogous sense when applied to 
sculpture. We establish a canon when we say that a figure should 
be so many heads high, and that its limbs should bear a certain 
proportion to the same unit. It would be the same if, as has 
often been proposed, the medius of the hand were erected into the 
unit of measurement, except that the figure would then be divided 
into a larger number of parts. Both ancients and modems have 
investigated this question, but we need not dwell upon the results 
of their inquiries. The Greeks had the canon of Polycletus; 
the Romans that of Vitruvius, while Leonardo da Vinci set 
an example to the numerous artists who have investigated the 
question since his time.^ 

Had the Egyptians a canon ? Did they choose some one part 
of the human body and keep all the other parts in a constant 
mathematical relation with it ? Did their canon, if they had one, 
change with time } Is it true that, in deference to the said canon, 
all the artists of Egypt living at one time gave similar proportions 
to their figures ? 

It has sometimes been pretended that in each century the priests 
decided upon the dimensions, or at least upon the proportions, 

* DicHonfiaire de FAcadhnie des Beaux-Arts, under the word Canon. 
^ These researches are described in the chapter entitled Des Proportions du 
Corps Humain of M. Ch. Blanc's Granimaire des Arts du Dessin, p. 38. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 317 

to be given by artists to their figures. Such an assertion can 
hardly be brought into harmony with the facts observed. 

The often quoted words of Diodorus have been taken as a text : 
" The Egyptians claim as their disciples the oldest of the Greek 
sculptors, especially Telecles and Theodoros, both sons of Rhaecos, 
who executed the statue of the Pythian Apollo for the inhabitants 
of Samos. Half of this statue, it is said, was executed at Samos 
by Telecles, the other half at Ephesus by Theodoros, and the 
two parts so exactly . fitted each other that the whole statue 
appeared to be the work of a single sculptor. After having arranged 
and blocked out their stone, the Egyptians executed the work 
in such fashion that all the parts adapted themselves one to 
another in the smallest details. To this end they divided the 
human figure into twenty-one parts and a quarter, upon which 
the whole symmetry of the work was regulated." ^ 

We may ask what authority should attach to the words of 
Diodorus, a contemporary of Augustus, in a matter referring to 
the Pharaonic period. But when the monuments began to be 
examined it was proclaimed that they confirmed his statements. 
Figures were found upon the tomb-walls which were divided into 
equal parts by lines cutting each other at right angles. These, of 
course, were the canonical standards mentioned by Plato and 

Great was the disappointment when these squares were counted. 
In one picture containing three individuals, two seated figures, one 
beside the other, are inscribed in fifteen of the squares ; a standing 
figure in front of them occupies sixteen.^ Another figure is 
comprised in nineteen squares.^ In another place we find twenty- 
two squares and a quarter between the sole of the foot and the 
crown of the head.* In yet another, twenty-three.^ As for the 
division given by Diodorus, it never occurs at all, and in fact it is 
hardly to be reconciled with the natural punctuation of the human 
body by its articulation and points of section. 

* Diodorus, L 98, 5-7. 

* Lepsius, Denkmceler, part iii. plate 12. 

* Ibid, plate 78. It is in this division into nineteen parts that M. Blanc finds 
his proof that the medius of the extended hand was the canonical unit 
{Grammaire., &c. p. 46.) 

* At Karnak, in the granite apartments. See Charles Blanc, Voyage de la 
Jlaute-Agypte^ p. 232. Two figures upon the ceiling of a tomb at Assouan are 
similarly divided. ' Lepsius, Denkmcelery part iii. p. 282. 

3i8 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

To surmount the difficulty the theory of successive canons was 
started ; some declared for two,^ some for three.^ This theory 
requires explanation also. Do its advocates mean that in all the 
figures of a single epoch there is a scale of proportion so constant 
that we must seek for its cause in an external peremptory regu- 
lation ? If, however, we doubt the evidence of our eyes and 
study the plates in Lepsius or the monuments in our museums, 
measure in hand, we shall see at once that no such theory will 
hold water. Under the Ancient Empire proportions varied appre- 
ciably between one figure and another. As a rule they were 
short rather than tall ; but while on the one hand we encounter 
certain forms of very squat proportions, amounting almost to 
deformity (Fig. 120, Vol. I.), we also find some whose forms are very 
lengthy (Fig. loi. Vol. I.). The artists of Thebes adopted a more 
slender type, but with them too we find nothing like a rigorous 
uniformity. Again, the elongation of the lower part of the body 
is much more strongly marked in the funerary statuettes (Fig. 50, 
Vol. I.) and in the paintings (Plate XII.) than in statues of the natural 
size (Figs. 211, 216) and in the colossi. If there had been a canon 
in the proper sense of the term its authority would have applied 
as much to those statuettes and bas-reliefs as to the full-sized 
figures. But, as a fact, the freedom of the artist is obvious ; his 
conception is modified only by the material in which he worked. 
He could not make a great statue in stone too slender below, as it 
would want base and solidity ; but as soon as he was easy on that 
score he allowed himself to be carried away by the temptation to 
exaggerate what seemed to him an especially graceful feature. 

We see, then, that art in Egypt went through pretty much the 
same changes and developments as in other countries in which 
it enjoyed a long and busy life. Taste changed with the centuries. 
It began by insisting on muscular vigour, as displayed in great 
breadth of shoulder and thickset proportions generally. In later 
years elegance became the chief object, and slenderness of pro- 
portion was sometimes pushed even to weakness. In each of 
these periods all plastic figures naturally approached the type 
which happened to be in fashion, and in that sense alone is it 

^ Ebers, ^gypten^ vol. ii. p. 54. Prisse, Histoire de PArt Agvptietif text, 
pp. 124-128. 

2 Lepsius, Ueber einige Kunisformeny p. 9. Birch, in Wilkinson's Manners and 
Customs^ vol. il Lepsius, Denkmceler, part ii. pi. 9, p. 270, note 3. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 319 

just to assert that Egyptian art had two difterent and successive 

The question as to whether the Egyptians ever adopted a unit 
of measurement in their rendering of the human figure or not, is 
different. Wilkinson and Lepsius thought they had discovered 
such a unit in the length of the foot, Prisse and Ch. Blanc in that 
of the medius. There is nothing in the texts to support either 
theory, and an examination of the monuments themselves shows 
that sometimes one, sometimes the other of the two units, is most 
in accordance with their measurements. Between the Ancient 
Empire and the New proportions differed so greatly that it is 
impossible to refer them to one unit. Among the works of a 
single period we find some that may be divided exactly by one of 
the two ; others which have a fraction too much or too little. It 
has not yet been proved, therefore, that the Egyptians ever adopted 
such a rigorous system as that attributed to them. Like all races 
that have greatly practised design, they established certain rela- 
tions between one part of their figures and another, relations 
which gradually became more constant as the national art lost its 
freedom and vitality ; and they arrived at last at the mechanical 
reproduction of a single figure without troubling themselves to 
calculate how many lengths of the head, the nose, the foot, or 
the medius, it might contain. Their eyes were their compasses, 
and they worked — at least under the New Empire and during the 
Grseco-Roman period — from models which represented the expe- 
rience of the past. It is therefore unnecessary to search for an 
explanation of the uniformity which characterises their works in 
the following of a rigid mathematical system ; we must be content 
to see in it the natural result of an artistic education into which, as 
the centuries succeeded one another, the imitation of previous 
types, and the application of traditional recipes entered more 
and more. 

As for the designs traced within lines which cross each other at 
regular intervals, they can be nothing but drawings squared for 
transferring purposes. Squaring is the usual process employed 
by artists when they wish to repeat a figure in different dimensions 
from those of the original. Having divided the latter by hori- 
zontal and perpendicular lines cutting each other at regular 
intervals, they go through the same operation upon the blank 
surface to which the figure is to be transferred, making the lines 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

equal in number to those upon the original, but the resul ting- 
squares larger if the copy is to be larger, smaller if it is to be 
smaller, than that original. Egyptian decorators often made use 
of this process for the transference of sketches upon papyrus, 
stone, or wood, to the wall. Of this practice we give two 
examples. The first is an elaborate composition in which several 
modifications and corrections of lines and attitudes may be traced 
(Fig. 258) ; the second is an isolated figure (Fig. 259). In each 
case the figures extend vertically over nineteen squares. The 
first dates from the eighteenth, the second from the nineteenth 
dynasty. ^ 

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Fig. 258. — Design transferred by squaring. From Prisse. 

The same device is sometimes made use of to transfer heads, 
and even animals, from a small sketch to the wall. In the tomb 
of Amenophis III., in the Bab-el- Molouk, there is a fine portrait 
of a prince thus squared ;^ at Beni-Hassan we find a cow and an 
antelope treated in the same fashion.^ 

Traces of another and yet more simple process are to be found. 
Before drawing the figures in his bas-reliefs the artist sometimes 
marked in red on the walls the vertical and horizontal lines 
which would give the poise of the body, the height of the 
shoulders and armpits, and of the lower edge of the drawers. 
The positions of secondary anatomical points were marked upon 

* Prisse, Histoire de VArt jigvptun. ^ Lepsius, Denkmahr^ part iii. pi. 70. 

^ Ibid, plate 152. 


The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 321 

these lines, and the whole formed a rough guide for the hand of 
the designer.' 

The fact that these lines and squares are only found upon a 
small number of paintings and bas-reliefs does not prove that 
their employment was in any way exceptional. It is probable 
that one of the two processes was generally used, but that the 
colour spread both upon figures and ground hides their traces. 
The few pictures in which they are now to be traced were never 

Most of the painters and sculp- 
tors to whom the decorations of ,—^-y--_- ,---—--,■-,■■. ■.- 
tombs and temples were confided 
must have had recourse to these 
contrivances, but here and there 
were artists who had sufficient 
skill and self-confidence to make 
their sketches directly upon the 
wall itself. More than one in- 
stance of this has been dis- 
covered in those Theban tombs 
whose decorations were left un- 
finished. In a few cases the 
design has been made in red 
chalk by a journeyman and after- 
wards corrected, in black chalk, 
by the master.* 

As the bas-relief was thus 

preceded by a sketch which f.g. 259.-D«lg« l^nsfcrred by squaring. 

was more or less liable to modi- *■■"»" '''■i*''^- 

fication, it would seem probable 

that a similar custom obtained in the case of the statue. It ap- 
pears especially unlikely that those great figures in the harder 

* Prisse, Histoire de TArt ^gyptUn, text, p. 123. Lepsius, DaikmaUr, pi. 65. 

^ Upon the preparation of the bas-relief, see Belzoni, Narrath't of the 
Operatienf, etc p. 175. 

pRissE gives several interesting examples of these corrected designs, among others 
a fine portrait of Stti I, (Histoire, etc. vol. ii.) 

" Examples of these corrections are to be found in sculpture as well as in painting. 
Our examination of the sculptures at Karnak showed that the artist did not always 
follow the first sketch traced in red ink, but that as the work progressed he modified 
it, and allowed himself to be guided, to some extent, by the effects which he saw 

VOL. II. ']■ T 

32 2 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

rocks which represented such an enormous outlay of manual 
labour, would be attacked without some guide which should pre^ 
serve them from the chance of ruin by some ill-considered blow. 
Did the Egyptian sculptor begin, then, with a clay sketch ? 
There is no positive information on the subject, but in all those 
numerous bas-reliefs which represent sculptors at work, there is 
not one in which the artist has before him anything in the shape 
of a model or sketch to guide him in his task. It is possible 
that the sameness of his statues, especially of his colossal figures 
in granite or sandstone, enabled the Egyptian to dispense with 
an aid which the infinite variety of later schools was to render 

The Egyptian sculptor was contented with a few simple 
attitudes which he reproduced again and again. He doubtless 
began by marking the salient, points and relative heights of the 
different parts upon his block. The rock was so hard that there 
was little risk of his journeymen spoiling the material by taking 
away too much, supposing them to be carefully overlooked. 
Marble would have been far more liable to such an accident. 
Even Michael Angelo, when he worked the marble with his own 
hands, spoilt more than one fine block from Carrara. 

Although we have no evidence to show that the Egyptians 
understood the use of clay models, we have some idea of the 
process by which they were enabled to do without them, and of 
the nature of their professional education. The chief Egyptian 
museums possess works which have been recognized as graduated 
exercises in the technique of sculpture. They are of limestone, 
and of no great size — from four to ten inches high. The use of 
these little models is shown to have been almost universal by the 
fact that Mariette found them on nearly every ancient site 
that he excavated. Their true character is beyond doubt.^ At 
Boulak there are twenty-seven sculptured slabs which were found 
at Tanis. One is no more than a rough sketch, just begun. By 
its side is a completed study of the same subjects. Some of these 
slabs are carved on both sides ; on others we find one motive 

growing under his hands. The western wall of the hypostyle hall contains many 
instances of this. It is decorated with sculptures on a large scale, in which the 
lines traced by the chisel differ more or less from those of the sketch. {Descrip^iofh 
Ant, vol. ii. p. 445.) 

^ Marieite, Notice du Musee, Nos. 623-688. 


The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 32,^ 

treated twice, side by side, once in the state of first sketch, and 
again as a finished study. The plaques which bear the heads of 
cynocephali, of lions and lionesses, are remarkable for the free- 
dom of their execution (Figs. 260, 261, and 262).^ The same 

Fio, 260.— Head of a Cynocephalos. 

njay be said of fifteen royal heads found at Sakkarah. They 
should be examined together. They range ^ in order from No. 623, 
which is a roughly-blocked-out sketch, to 637, a finished head. 

Fic, 261.— Head of a Lion. Fig, a6a.— Head of a Lioness, 

One of these models is divided down the middle, so as to give 
accent to the profile, A few of them are squared in order to test 
the proportions. But even here no canon of proportion is to be 

' Nos. 652-654 of the Notice du Musk. ^ In the Bouink dialogue. 

324 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

found. ** If the squares were based upon some unchanging unit, 
they would be identical in every model in which they occur. But 
in one of these heads we find three horizontal divisions between 
the.uraeus and the chin; in another four. In most cases the 
number of the squares seems to have been entirely due to the 
individual caprice or convenience of the artist. There are but 
two examples in which another rule seems to have been followed ; 
in them the proportions of the squares are identical, and their 
intersections fall upon the same points. All that may be 
fairly deduced from this, however, is that they are the work 
of the same hands." ^ A second series of royal heads was found 
at Tanis ; others have been discovered in the Fayoum. Boulak 
also possesses models of the ram, the jackal, and the uraeus, of 
arms, legs, hands, &c. Upon a plaque from Tanis the figure of 
I sis appears twice, once as a sketch and once as a finished studv- 

From the style of these remains Mariette is disposed to think 
that they were not earlier than the Saite epoch. As the Egyptian 
intellect gradually lost its inventive powers, the study of such 
models as these must have played a more and more important 
part in artistic education ; but we have no reason to believe that 
their use was confined to the later ages of the monarchy. As 
artists became accustomed to reproduce certain fixed types, they 
gradually lost their familiarity with nature, and their works became 
ever more uniform and monotonous. This tendency is to be 
easily recognized in Egyptian work long before the days of Amasis 
and the Psemetheks ; in some degree it is found even in the 
productions of the Ancient Empire. The use of the models in 
question may have become general at the beginning of the Middle 
Empire. But their introduction was not due to the priests, but to 
the masters in the arts, who saw that they offered a sure and rapid 
method of instructing their scholars. 

Yet one more cause of the monotony of type which distinguished 
Egyptian art after its first renascence remains to be noticed. The 
Egyptians were fully conscious of the great antiquity of their 
civilization. They thought of other nations much as the Greeks 
and Romans of a later age thought of those whom they called 
barbarians. When the scribes had to speak of foreigners they 

* Mariette, Za Galerie -de V^gypte Andenne ci V Exposition du TrocaihrOi 
pp. 69, 70. 

The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture. 325 

made use of a complete vocabulary of contemptuous terms, and, 
as always occurs, the pride of race upon which they*'were based 
long survived the condition of things which formed its justification. 
The Greek conquest was necessary to cure the Egyptians of their 
disdain, or, at least, to compel them to hide it. Now the visible 
sign of their superiority was the beauty of the national type, as 
elaborated by judicious selection and represented in art since the 
earliest days of the monarchy. The Egyptian was proud of him- 
self when he compared the refined features of his gods and kings, 
their graceful attitudes and smiling looks, with the thick and heavy 
lines of the negro or the hard and truculent features of the Libyan 
and the Syrian nomad. In attempting to innovate, some danger 
of lowering the nobility of the type would be incurred. The 
pressure of neighbouring races ended by throwing back the 
Egyptian frontiers. At one time they were forcibly curtailed 
by victorious invasion ; at others they were weakened here and 
there, allowing the entrance of the shepherds, of foreign merchants, 
and of mercenaries of various nationalities. The purity of the 
Egyptian blood was menaced, and at all hazards it was necessary 
to preserve without alteration the ideal image of the race, the 
concrete emblem of its glorious past and the pledge of its high 
destinies. It was thus that in Egypt progress was hampered 
by fear of retrogression. Perfection is impossible to those who 
fear a fall. 

Another obstacle that helped to prevent the Egyptians from 
reaching the perfection which their early achievements seemed 
to promise, was their love for colour. They did not establish a 
sufficiently sharp line of demarcation between painting and 
sculpture. They always painted their statues, except when they 
carved them in materials which had a rich natural hue of their 
own, a hue to which additional vivacity was given by a high 
polish. By this means varied tints were obtained which were 
in harmony with the polychromatic decoration which was so near 
their hearts. Their excuse is to be found in their ignorance of 
statuary marble and of the clear and flesh-like tones and texture 
which it puts on under the sculptor's chisel. 

The Egyptians, however, never committed the fault of colouring 
their statues in an imitative fashion, like those who make wax 
figures. Their hues were always conventional. Moreover, they 
were never either broken or shaded, which is sufficient to show 

326 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

that no idea of realistic imitation was implied in their use.^ 
Sculpture is founded upon an artificial understanding by which 
tangible form and visible colour are dissociated from each other. 
When the sculptor looks to the help of the painter he runs great 
risk of failing to give all the precision and beauty of which form 
by itself is capable, to his work. Even the Greeks did not grasp 
this truth at once. The Egyptians had at least a glimmering of 
it, and we must thank them for having employed polychromy 
in their sculpture in a discreet fashion. 

§ ID. The General Characteristics of the Egyptian Style. 

We have attempted to give an idea of the origin of Greek 
sculpture, of its development and its decadence. We have 
noticed those slow changes of taste and style which sometimes 
required a thousand years for their evolution, for a century in 
Egypt was hardly equal to a generation elsewhere. After proving 
that Egypt did not escape the universal law of change, we studied 
the methods and conventions which were peculiar to her sculptors 
and impressed their works with certain common characteristics. 
The union of these characteristics formed the Egyptian style. 
We must now define that style, and attempt to make its originality 
clear to our readers. 

In its commencement Egyptian art was entirely realistic. It 
was made realistic both by the conceptions which presided at its 
birth and by the wants which it was called upon to satisfy. The 
task to which it applied itself with a skill and conscience which are 
little less than marvellous, was the exact representation of all that 
met its vision. In the bas-relief it reproduced the e very-day 
scenes of agricultural life and of the national worship ; in the 
statue it portrayed individuals with complete fidelity. But even 
in those early ages imagination was not asleep. It was continually 
seeking to invent forms which should interpret its favourite ideas. 
It figured the exploits of the king, the defender of the national 
civilization, in the form of a warrior brandishing his mace over the 
heads of his enemies. In the royal statues everything combined to 
mark the gulf between the Pharaoh and his subjects, their materials, 

^ Ch. Blanc, Voyage dt la Haute-Agypte^ p. 99. 

The General Characteristics of the Egyptian Style. 327 

size, attitude, and expression, although in natural life there can 
have been no such distinction. Finally the Great Sphinx at Gizeh 
is sufficient to prove that the Egyptians, in their endeavour to 
make the great deities whom they had conceived visible 
to the eye, had attempted to create composite types of which the 
elements were indeed existent in nature, but separate and distinct. 

After the first renascence their imaginations played more freely. 
They multiplied the combinations under which their gods were 
personified. They transformed and idealized the human figure 
by the gigantic proportions which they 'gave to it in the seated 
statues of the king, and in those upright colossi in which the 
majesty of Pharaoh and the divinity of Osiris are combined in 
one individual. The sculptors portrayed the king in attitudes 
which had never been seen by mortal eyes. Sometimes he is 
seated upon the knee of a goddess and drawing nourishment from 
her breast ; sometimes he bends, like a respectful and loving son, 
before his father Amen, who blesses him, and seems by his gesture 
to convey to him some of his own omnipotence and immortality. 
Again he is presented to us in the confusion of battle, towering so 
high above his adversaries that we can only wonder how they had 
the temerity to stand up against him. Events hardly passed thus 
in those long and arduous campaigns against the Khetas and the 
People of the sea, in which more than one of the Theban Pharaohs 
spent their lives. Victory, when it was victory, was long and 
hotly disputed. Superiority of discipline and armament told at 
last and decided the contest in favour of the Egyptians, who were 
inferior in strength and stature to most of their enemies, especially 
to those who came from Asia Minor and the Grecian islands. 

It is hardly just, therefore, to say, as has been said,^ that 
'* Egyptian art had only one aim, the exact rendering of reality ; 
in it all qualities of observation are developed to their utmost 
capabilities, those of imagination are wanting." Egyptian art is 
not like the sensitized plate of the photographer. It does not 
confine itself to the faithful reproduction of the objects placed 
before it. Painters and sculptors were not content, as has been 
pretended, with the art that can be seen, as opposed to the art that 
can be imaginedy and an injustice is done to them by those who 
would confine the latter to the Aryan race. The apparent 
precision of such an assertion makes it all the more misleading. 


^ E. Melchior de Vogue, Chez hs Pharaons. 

328 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Egyptian art was realistic in its inception and always remained 
so to a certain degree, but with the passage of time the creative 
intellect began to play a part in the production of plastic works ; 
it added to and combined the elements which it took from nature, 
and thus created imaginary beings which differed from natural fact 
by their proportions, their beauty, and their composition. The 
Egyptian artist had his ideal as well as the Greek. 

In saying, then, that the art of Egypt was realistic, we have 
only laid the first stone of the definition we wish to establish. Its 
original character was, perhaps, still more due to another feature, 
namely to its elimination or suppression of detail. This elimina- 
tion, far from diminishing with time, went on increasing as the 
country grew older. It may be traced to the action of two causes. 
In the first place, the influence of the ideographic writing upon 
the national style can hardly be exaggerated. The concrete 
images of things could only be introduced into it by means of 
simplification and generalization. In such a school the eye learnt 
to despoil form of all those details which were merely accidental, 
of all that made it particular. It sought for the species, or even 
the genus, rather than the individual. This tendency was increased 
by the peculiar properties of the materials upon which the 
Egyptians lavished their skill and patience. The harder rocks 
turned the edges of their bronze chisels, and compelled them to 
choose between roughly-blocked-out sketches and a laborious 
polish which obliterated all those minor details of modelling which 
should vary according to the sex, the age, and the muscular 
exertion of the persons represented. We see, then, that the 
rebellious nature of the granite, and the imperfect methods which 
it imposed, completed the lessons begun by that system of figured 
writing which dates from the remotest periods of Egyptian 

There is an obvious contradiction between the tendency which 
we have just noticed, and those habits of realistic imitation whose 
existence has been explained by the desire to secure a posthumous 
existence for the dead. The history of Egyptian sculpture, is, in 
fact, the history of a contest in the mind of the artist between 
these two opposing forces. In the early years of the monarchy, 
his first duty was to supply a portrait statue, the chief merit of 
which should lie in the fidelity of its resemblance. Of this task 
he acquitted himself most skilfully and conscientiously, reproducing 



The General Characteristics of the Egyptian Style. 329 

every individual peculiarity, and even deformity of his model. 
His chief attention was given to the face, as being the member by 
which men are principally distinguished one from another. Even 
then, and in the funerary statues, the body was much more general 
in its forms than the head. In the course of succeeding ages 
the sculptor was able, whenever he wished to make a faithful 
portrait either of an individual man or of a race, to bring this 
faculty into play and to clearly mark the differences between races 
or between the individuals of a race, by the varying character of 
the head. But yet his art showed an ever increasing tendency to 
follow the bent which had been given to it by the practice of 
glyptic writing, and by the long contest with unkindly materials. 
After the close of the Ancient Empire Egyptian art became 
ambitious of a higher style. Under the Theban Pharaohs it 
worked hard to attain it, and it knew no better means to the 
desired end than the continual simplification and generalization of 

This is the great distinguishing characteristic of the Egyptian 
style. The uniformity, stiffness, and restraint of the attitudes, the 
over-rigorous symmetry of the parts and of the limbs, and the close 
alliance of the latter with the bodies, are only secondary features. 
We shall find them in the works of every race compelled to make 
use of materials that were either too hard or too soft. Moreover, 
these are the constant characteristics of archaic art, and it must 
not be forgotten that even in Egypt many wooden and limestone 
figures have been unearthed which surprise us by the freedom of 
their attitudes and movements. The true originality of the 
Egyptian style consists in its deliberately epitomizing that upon 
which the artists of other countries have elaborately dwelt, in its 
lavishing all its executive powers upon chief masses and leading 
lines, and in the marvellous judgment with which it seizes their 
real meaning, their proportions, and the sources of their artistic 

As figures increased in size this tendency towards the suppression 
of detail increased also, and so too did their fitness for the archi- 
tectonic role they had to play. The colossi which flank the 
entrances to an Egyptian temple have been often criticised from an 
erroneous standpoint. They have been treated as if they were 
meant to be self-sufficient and independent. Their massiveness 

VOL. n. u u 

330 A History of Art in Ancient Egypx. 

and want of vitality have been blamed ; it has been said that the 
seated figures could not rise, nor the standing ones wralk. To 
form a just estimate of their merit we must take them with the 
monuments of which they formed a part. We must rouse our 
imaginations, and picture them to ourselves with their flanking 
colonnades about them, with the pylons at their backs, and the 
obelisks at their sides. We must close our eyes fora moment and 
reconstruct this combination of architectural and sculpturesque 
lines. We shall then readily perceive how entirely these colossi 
were in harmony with their surroundings. Their vertical and 
horizontal lines echoed those of the monument to which they were 
attached. The rhythm of the long colonnades Was carried on by 
their repetition of a single attitude, while their colossal dimensions 
and immovable solidity brought them into complete accord with 
the huge structures by which they were surrounded. It has been 
said that, more than any of its rivals, " the architecture of Egypt 
impresses us with the idea of absolute stability, of infinite duration." 
Could anything be in more complete harmony with such an art 
than the grave and majestic attitudes of these seated Pharaohs, 
attitudes which from every line breathe a profound calm, a repose 
without change and without end. 



§ I. Technical Processes. 


Most of our observations upon Egyptian sculpture are applic- 
able to the sister art of painting. The conventions which form 
the characteristic originality of the Egyptian style were established 
by the sculptor ; but when the artist had to draw the outline 
of a form, and to fill it in with colour instead of cutting it upon 
the naked surface of the wall, the difference of process did not 
affect his method of comprehending and interpreting his models. 
We find the same qualities and the same defects. The purity of 
line, the nobility of pose, the draughtsmanship at once just and 
broad, the ignorance of perspective, and the constant repetition of 
traditional attitudes are found in both methods. Painting, in fact, 
never became an independent and self-sufficing art in Egypt. It 
was commonly used to complete sculpturesque effects, and it never 
freed itself from this subordination. It never attempted to make 
use of its own peculiar resources for the expression of those 
things which sculpture could not compass — the depths of space, 
the recession of planes, the varieties of hue which passion spreads 
over the human countenance, and the nature and intensity of the 
feelings which are thus betrayed. We may say that it is only by 
some abuse of terms that we can speak of Egyptian painting at 
all. No people have spread more colour upon stone and wood 
than the Egyptians ; none have had a more true instinct for colour 
harmony ; but yet they never attempted to express, by the grada- 
tion of tone, by the juxtaposition or superposition of tints, the real 
aspects of the surfaces which present themselves to our eyes, 
aspects which are Ainceasingly modified by the amount of light or 
shadow, by distance and the state of the atmosphere. They had 

332 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

not the least glimmering of what we call chiaroscuro or of aerial 

Their painting rests upon conventions as audacious as those of 
their sculpture. In it every surface has an uniform and decided 
value though in nature everything is shaded. A nude figure is all 
one colour — dark for a man, light for a woman. A drapery has 
but one tone, the artist never seeming to trouble himself ^vhether 
it be in light or shadow, or partly in one partly in the other. In 
a few plates in Lepsius, and still more in Prisse,^ there are sugf- 
gestions that an artist here and there, more skilful than his rivals, 
understood that values differed, and distinguished in his more 
careful work between colour in shadow and colour in light One 
or two contours appear to hint at the rotundity of chiaroscuro. 
In accepting such a suggestion, however, we should be making a 
mistake against which we have been warned even by such early 
travellers as the authors of the Description? The effects' in 
question must be placed to the credit of the sculptor. The 
images in which they appear are painted bas-reliefs, and the slig^ht 
shadow thrown by their salient grounds gives an appearance of 
half-tint to their contours. Wherever pictures are without relief 
there is no such appearance, and yet changes of value would in 
them be more useful than elsewhere. 

To place unbroken colours in juxtaposition to each other 
without transitions is to illuminate ; it is not painting in the true 
sense of the word, and its practitioner is an artisan rather than 
an artist. The artist is he who traces the design upon the walls, 
who, chalk in hand, sketches the forms of men and women and 
the lines of the ornament. Many of these sketches are admirable 
for the freedom and breadth of their outline. The portrait of 
Amenophis III. which is to be seen in his tomb in the Bab-el - 
Molouk is a good example of these master-studies (Fig. 263). 
When nothing interfered to prevent the completion of the work, 
the painter came with his palette and brushes to spread colour 
over the spaces enclosed by these lines. Nothing could be easier 
than his task. He was only required to lay his colours smoothly, 
and to avoid overpassing the boundaries laid down for him. The 
hues of the flesh and of the draperies were fixed in advance 
as well as those of the various objects which were repeatedly 
introduced in such works. 

* Vol. ii. plates 41, 66, and 70. 2 Description^ Antiquites^ vol iii. p. 45. 

Technical Processes. 

At Beni-Hassan, and in several of the Theban tombs, there are 
representations of the painter at work. When he had to spread 
a single tint over a large surface — brown, for instance, upon the 
whole superficies of a limestone statue — we see him seated upon 
a kind of stool, his pot of colour in his left hand, his brush in his 
unsupported right (Fig. 54 Vol. I.,), Sometimes his work was 
more complicated than this. There are a few royal portraits, and 
a few scenes with numerous actors, in which the whole scale of 

Fic, 363.— Oulline for 

(if Amenophis III. Champollion, pi. 132. 

tints at his command must have been required. He then makes 
use of a palette. Specimens of these palettes are to be seen in 
every museum. They are rectangular pieces of wood, of alabaster, 
or of enamelled earthenware. They usually have seven little colour 
cups, but a few have as many as eleven or twelve. Small styles, 
as large as a crow-quill, have been found with these palettes. 
The use of these has been much discussed. Prisse cut one and 
steeped it in water. It was then discovered that the reed of 

334 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

which it was composed became a brush when its fibres were 
thus softened by moisture.^ None of the large brushes which 
must have been used to spread the colour over considerable sur- 
faces have been discovered, but Prisse believes that they too must 
have been made of fibrous reeds, such as the sarmentose stems 
of the Salvadora persica. Others think that for such purposes 
the hair pencil must have been employed. 

Cakes of colour have sometimes been found in the tombs, 
together with earthenware mortars and pestles for grinding them. 
The tints usually employed were yellow, red, blue, green, brown, 
white, and black. These correspond to the seven cups hollowed 
in most of the palettes. They each included several varieties. 
Some of these colours were vegetable, such as indigo ; others — 
and these more numerous— were mineral. Among the latter is 
a certain blue, which has preserved all its brilliancy even after so 
many centuries. Its merits were extolled by Theophrastus and 
Vitruvius. It is an ash with wonderful power of resisting chemical 
agents, and neither turning green nor black with exposure to the 
air. It must have been composed, we are told, of sand, copper- 
filings, and subcarbonate of soda reduced to powder and burnt in 
an oven. Copper is also the colouring principle, at least in our 
days, of those greens which are more or less olive in tone. 
Different shades of red, yellow, and brown, were obtained from 
the ochres. Their whites, formed of lime, of plaster, or of pow- 
dered enamel, have sometimes preserved a snowy whiteness 
beside which our whitest papers seem grey.^ As for violet, 
ChampoUion tells us that no colour used by the ancients had 
that value. In those few bas-reliefs in which it is now found, it 
is a result of the changes which time has spread over surfaces 

* Prisse, Histoire de VArt Agyptien, text, p. 289. 

2 Fuller details as to the composition of these colours are given in Prisse, 
Histoire de VArt Agyptien, text, pp. 292-295. A paper written by the father of 
Prosper Mdrimde and printed by Passalacqua at the end of his Catalogue (pp. 258, 
et seq^ may also be consulted with profit ; its full title is Dissertation sur PEmplot 
des Couleurs, des Vemis, et des Amaux dans PAncienne Agypte, by M. Merim^e, 
Secretaire PerpHuel de tAcole Royale des Beaux-Arts, This paper shows that 
M. M^rim^e added taste and a love for erudition to the talent as a painter which 
he is said to have possessed. Belzoni shows that the manufacture of indigo must 
have been practised by the ancient Egyptians by much the same processes as those 
in use to-day {^Narrative of the Operations^ etc. p. 175). See also Wilkinson, 
Manners and Customs, etc. vol. ii. p. 287. 

Technical Processes. 335 

ded. The hue in question is caused, we are told, by 

or other preparation upon which the gold was laid.^ 

ieban tombs the figures are first drawn and then painted 

: coat which has all the polish of stucco. It seems 

of a very fine plaster and a transparent glue. It is 

where no tint has been laid upon it; here and there 

y surface is still undimmed.^ When the pictures were 

upon wood or, as in the mummies, upon linen laid down 

.hin layer of plaster, a preparatory coat of white was 

spread in the first instance. The tints became more 

. over such a coat, the most opaque being in some degree 


. paintings are, as a rule, free from cracks. The colours 

to have been mixed with water and some flexible gum 

cragacanth.* M. Hector Leroux, who took impressions of 

/ bas-reliefs during his visit to Egypt, is inclined to believe 

the Egyptians sometimes mixed honey with their colours, 

he makers of water-colours do now. In some of the tombs 

; painting became sticky when he laid his moistened paper upon 

air surfaces. In others no amount of wetting affected the 

irface of the colours, which remained as smooth and hard as 

namel. Some Egyptian paintings are covered with a resinous 

/arnish which has blackened with time and spoilt the colours 

upon which it is laid.^ The same varnish was used for the 

mummy cases and gives them the dark hue which they now 

present. A few exceptionally well preserved examples permit 

us to suppose that their colours when fresh must have been much 

lighter in tone and more brilliant than they now appear. No 

such precaution was taken, as a rule, in the case of the frescos. 

Their surfaces were left free from a substance that could so greatly 

alter with time, and thanks partly to this, partly to the equality 

of temperature and to the dryness and tranquillity of the air, 

they have retained an incomparable freshness. The centuries 

» Champollion, I^//rfs d*Agypie et de Nubie, p. 130. 

2 Description^ Ant, vol. iii. p. 44. 

' Merimee, Dissertation sur t Emploi des Couieurs, p. 130. 

* Merimee, Dissertation^ etc. Champollion uses the term gouache, body colour, 
in speaking of these paintings, but as the characteristic of that process is that every 
tint is mixed with white, there is some inaccuracy in doing so. 

* Prisse, Histoire de PArt Agypiien^ text, p. 291. 

336 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

have passed gently over them, but since all the world Jhas taken 
to visiting Egypt, including even the foolish and ignorant, they 
have suffered greatly from the barbarity of tourists. Of" this the 
state of those beautiful decorations in the tomb of Seti -which 
have excited the admiration of all cultivated travellers, is a 
painful instance. 

Several mummy masks are in existence which prove that 
encaustic painting, in which naphtha and wax were used, was 
employed by the Egyptians ; ^ but this process does not seem 
to have been developed until after the Macedonian conquest. 
Speaking generally, we may say that the Egyptian method was 

The Egyptians produced easel pictures as well as wall paintings. 
In one of the Beni-Hassan tombs two artists are represented 
painting animals upon a panel.^ Herodotus tells us that Amasis 
presented his portrait to the people of Cyrene.^ Supposing it 
to be the work of a native artist, we may fomr some idea of its 
character from the Egyptian portraits, dating from the Roman 
epoch, which are now in the Louvre. Doubtless the portrait 
of Amasis was very different in style from these productions 
of the decadence ; but it is probable that, like them, it was painted 
upon a cedar panel. 

We have no reason to believe that the Egyptians ever suc- 
ceeded in crossing the line which separates illumination from 
painting. The convention which saw only single flat tones 
on every surface being once adopted, it was sometimes pushed 
to extraordinary lengths. Not content with ignoring the varieties 
of tone and tint which nature everywhere presents, the Egyptian 
artists sometimes adopted arbitrary hues which did not, even 
faintly, recall the actual colours of the objects upon which they 
were used. As a rule they represented the female skin as a 
light-yellow, and the male as a reddish-brown. This distinction 
may be understood. Besides its convenience as indicative of 
sex to a distant observer, it answers to a difference which social 
habits have established in every civilized society. More 
completely covered than men and less in the open air, the 
women, at least those of the upper classes, are less exposed to 

^ Prisse, Histoire^ etc text, p. 291. 

'-^ Wilkinson, Manners and Customs^ etc vol. ii. p. 294. 

^ Herodotus, ii, 182. 

Technical Processes. 337 

the effects of sun and wind than men. Their skins are 
usually fairer. In northern climates they are whiter, in southern 
less brown. We are surprised therefore to find that in the 
small temple at Ipsamboul the carnations of male and female, 
"whether they be kings and queens or gods and goddesses, are 
all alike of a vivid yellow, not far removed from chrome.^ 
Those divinities who have the limbs and features of man, such as 
Amen, Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys, should, we might think, be 
subject to the same rule as the images of men and women, and 
in most cases it is so. But, on the other hand, the painter often 
endows them with skins of the most fanciful and arbitrary hue. 
At Ipsamboul there is an Amen with a blue skin,^ and, again, an 
Amen and an Osiris which are both green.^ At Philae we find 
numerous examples of the same singularity.* At Kalabch6, in 
Nubia, there are royal figures coloured in the same fashion.^ 

Exceptional though they may be, these curious representations 
help us to understand the Egyptian method of looking at colour. 
They did not employ it like the modern painter, in order to add to 
the illusion ; they used it decoratively, partly to satisfy that innate 
love for polychromy which we have explained by the intensity of a 
southern sun, partly to give relief to their figures, which would 
stand out more boldly from the white ground when brilliant with 
colour than when they had to depend solely upon their slight 
relief. In the interior of the figure colour was used to distinguish 
the flesh from the draperies, and to indicate those enrichments in 
the latter which made up the elegance of the Egyptian costume. 
A good example of this way of using colour is seen in the tomb of 
Amenophis III., which contains the portrait of Queen Taia 
reproduced in our Fig. 264.^ 

^ There are other exceptions to the ordinary rule. In a fine bas-relief in the 
Louvre, representing Seti I. before Hathor, the carnations of the goddess are similar 
to those of the Pharaoh ; they are in each case dark red (basement room, B, 7). 

2 Champollion, Monuments de VAgypte et de la Nubic^ pi. u. Blue was the 
regular colour for Amen when represented with a complete human form ; when he 
was ram-headed he was generally painted green (see CHAMPOLLIO^I, Panthhn 
igyptien^ No. i; Pirrret, Dictionnaire Archhlogique ; and pi. 2, vol. i. of the 
present work). — Ed. 

* Ibid, pL 59. ^ Ibid, plates 71, 76, 78, 91. * Ibid, pi. 154. 

- ? We place this portrait of Taia in our chapter on painting because its colour is 
exceptionally delicate and carefully managed (see Prisse, text, p. 421). The 
original is, however, in very low relief, so low that it hardly affects the colour values. 


338 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

We find, too, that in pictures in which people of different races 
are brought together, the artist employs dififerent tones to mark 
their varied hues. In a tomb at Abd-el-Gournah, in which the 
construction of a building is represented, the workmen, who are 
doubtless slaves or prisoners of war, have not all skins of one 
colour ; some are light yellow, some light red, while others are 
reddish-brown. We are led to believe that this is not merely the 
result of caprice on the part of the painter, by the fact that the 
men with the light yellow skin seem to have more hair on their 
chests and chins than the others. They come, no doubt, from 
northern latitudes, whose inhabitants are more hairy than the 
southerners.^ The negroes are made absolutely black,^ the 
Ethiopians very dark brown.^ 

But although the Egyptian painter made no attempt to imitate 
the hues of nature in their infinite variety, we find a curious effort 
in certain Theban paintings to reproduce one of those modifications 
of local tone which were to attract so many artists of later times. 
The flesh tints are brown where they are uncovered, and light 
yellow where they are veiled ; the painter thus attempting to show 
the warm skin shining through the semi-transparence of fine 

This is, however, but an isolated attempt, and it does not affect 
the truth of our description of Egyptian painting, and of its 
conventional methods of using colour. The observations we have 
made apply equally justly to coloured bas-reliefs and to paintings 
properly speaking. The latter are only found in the tombs. In 
the temples the figures which compose the decoration are always 
engraved upon the walls in some fashion before they are touched 
with colour, and the office of the painter was restricted to filling in 
the prepared outlines with colour. It is the same, as a rule, with 
the steles ; but a few exist upon which the painter has had the 
field to himself. The papyri, too, were illustrated by the artist in 
colour. Those elaborate examples of the Rittial of the Dead^ 
which come from the tombs of princes and of rich subjects, are 
full of carefully executed vignettes (Figs. 97 and 184, Vol. 1.). 

It is easy to understand why the painter reserved himself for 

1 Lepsius, Devkmaier, part iii. pi. 40, cf. pi. 116. ^ Ibid. pi. 117. 

3 See the Ethiopians in the painting from the tomb of Rekmara, which is 
reproduced in Wilkinson, vol. i. plate 2. 
* LEPSIU5, Denkmaler^ part iii. pi. 216. 

Technical Processes. 339 

the tomb.. The pictures upon the external walls of the temples 
and upon the pylons were seen in the full glare of a southern sun ; 
so too, at least for a part of the day, were those upon the walls of 
the courtyards, and upon the shafts of their surrounding columns. 
Even in the interior many of the decorations would receive direct 

Fig. 164.— rorlrail of Queen Taia. From Prisse. 

sunlight from the claustra of the attic, others would be subject to 
friction from the hands and garments of visitors. Painting by 
itself would be unfitted for such situations. It would either have 
its effect destroyed by the direct light, or its colours dulled and 
damaged by constant touches. Figures carved in the substance of 

3 4-0 A History of Art in Ancient Egypx. 

the walls would have a very different duration. AVhen their 
colours paled with time, a few strokes of the brush -would be 
sufficient to renew their youth, and the combination of colour with 
relief would give a much more telling result than could be 
obtained by the use of the latter alone. 

With the tomb it was very different. In its case neither violent 
changes of temperature, nor friction, nor the rays of a dazzling' sun 
were to be feared. Its doors were to be ever closed, and the 
scenes which were entrusted to its walls were to have no spectator 
but the dead man and his protecting Osiris. To carry out the 
whole work with the brush was quicker than to associate that 
instrument with the chisel, and we need therefore feel no surprise 
that many tombs were so decorated. 

These paintings are in no way inferior to the sculptural works 
of the same period ; the outlines of both must, in fact, have been 
traced by the same hands. The wielders of the chisel and brush 
must have been nothing more than journeymen or artisans ; the 
true artist was he who traced upon the wall the outline which had 
afterwards to be filled in either in relief or in colour. 

We should have liked to have reproduced the best of these 
paintings with all their richness and variety of tint, but we had no 
original studies of which we could make use, and, as in the painted 
architecture, we saw no great advantages to be gained by copying 
the plates of Champollion, of Lepsius, or of Prisse. The processes 
which they were compelled to employ have in many cases visibly 
affected the fidelity of their transcriptions. We have therefore 
felt ourselves compelled, much to our disappointment, to trust 
almost entirely to black and white. We have, however, been 
careful to preserve the relative values of the different tones. 
Those who have seen Egyptian paintings in the original, or even 
in the copies which hang upon the staircase of the Egyptian 
museum in the Louvre, will be able to restore their true colours 
to our engravings without difificulty ; the flesh tints, light or dark 
according to circumstances, the blackness of the hair, the whiteness 
of linen cloth and of the more brilliant colours, the reds and blues 
which adorn certain parts of the draperies and certain details of 
furniture and jewellery, may all be easily divined. 

Our plates, though less numerous than we could have wished, 
will help the reader to restore the absent colour. Plate II., in the 
first volume, gives a good idea of the scale of tints used in the 

The Figure. 


painted bas-reliefs of the temples ; we have every reason to believe 
it accurate.^ The plate which faces page 334 is a faithful repro- 
duction of a fragment in the Louvre. It comes from a Theban 
tomb, and shows the elegance and refinement of the contours 
which the painter had to fill up. The colour has faded, but the 
most interesting point in all these pictures is the outline, in which 
alone real artistic talent and inventive power are displayed. 
Finally, our Plates III. and IV., drawn and coloured from notes 
and sketches made upon the spot by M. Bourgoin, represent the 
polychromatic decoration of the Ancient Empire as it was left by 
those who decorated the tomb of Ptah-hotep. In this case at least 
we know that we possess the true value of the tones brought 
together by the artist, for the mastaba in question is one of those 
which the desert sands have most completely preserved. 

§ 2. The Figure. 

In the mastabas colours are applied to figures in relief. It is 
not till we reach the first Theban Empire, in the tombs at Beni- 
Hassan, that we find real paintings in which the brush alone has 
been used. 

* Fig. 265. — Painting at BenUHasFan. Champollion, pi. 374. 

We have already described the style and character of the 
paintings at Beni-Hassan. In most cases the outlines prepared 
for the painter do not differ from those meant for the sculptor. 

1 The materials for this plate were borrowed from the Description de VEgypte, In 
the complete copies of that work the plates were coloured by hand, with extreme 
care, after those fine water-colours the most important of which are now in the 
Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothhque NationcUe, The colours thus applied are 
far nearer the truth than those of the chromo-lithographs in more modem 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

We have already reproduced many works in outline in which 
there is nothing to show whether they are paintings or bas-reliefs. 
Their execution is almost identical (see Figs. 2, 5, 25, 98, 170, 
Vol. I. ; Figs. 25, 26, 31, Vol. II). It is the same with the two 

Fig. 266. — Painting at Beni-IIassan. ChampoUion, pi. 371. 

wrestling scenes which we take from the frescos in which all the 
gymnastic exercises then in vogue are represented (Figs. 265 and 
266), and with the charming group formed by an antelope and 
a man stroking his muzzle (Fig. 267). 

Fig. 267. — Painting at Benl-Hassan. ChampoUion, pi. 359. 

Even at Beni-Hassan, however, there are a few paintings in 
which the peculiar and distinguishing characteristics of that art are 
to be found. The group of singers and musicians figured on 


The Figure. 

this page is an instance in point. Two of the heads are shown 
in full face, a view which we hardly ever meet with in the bas- 
reliefs. The hair and the draperies are also treated in a fashion 

Fio. z6S. — Faintins at Beni-I-Iassan. Champollion, pi. 377 ter. 

quite different from that of sculpture, at least in the case of the 
two musicians on the right. Their twisted tresses seem to be 
thrown into disorder by the energetic movements of their heads. 

Fig. 369. — Fainting at Thebes. Krom Horeau. 

which they seem to sway in time to the music of the flute, which is 
also marked by the hands of two members of the party. The deep 
shadows cast by their hair give a strong relief to the oval contours 

344 A History ok Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of the two faces which look out of the picture. The execution of 
the drapery is governed by the same idea, its numerous small folds 
are suggested by lines at slight intervals. 

In the whole series of Egyptian wall-paintings I know of nothing 
which is more truly pictorial in character than this picture- A 

fiC. 270.— Painting at Thebes. From Prisse. 

careful study of it might well lead us to believe that its painter 
deliberately set himself to cast oft traditional methods, and to 
obtain all the effect that the skilful use of colour can give. But 
the seed thus cast did not spring up. Theban painting is not 
an advance upon that of Beni-Hassan. It hardly ever attempts 
the full face. It is only here and there that we can point to 
a work in which the brush seems to have dwelt upon a few details 

Vic, 271,— llaipist. From the Dairipihii. 

The Figure. 347 

that would be rendered in a more summary fashion by the chisel. 
The mandore player in Fig. 270, who comes from the same 
hypogeum at Abd-el-Gournah as the Amenophis III. upon the 
knees of a goddess in Fig. 24, is one of these rare instances. 
The hair, plaited into narrow tresses and retained in place by 
a long comb, is carried out with quite unusual care. The areolae 
of the breasts are very clearly marked, a detail which Prisse says 
he never met with elsewhere.^ 


KiG. 273. — lleaii of ihe same prisoner. 

The slender proportions which we have already noticed as 
characteristic of this period are here strongly marked. They are 
also conspicuous in the figures in Plate II. This is a funerary 
scene. Three women stand before the defunct ; one hands the 
cup for the libation, the two others play upon the flute and the 
harp respectively. 

This fragment must have formed part of a funerary scene 
similar to that put before us in full by a painting in one of the 
tombs in the Valley of Queens at Thebes. We there see women 

' Prisse, Histoire de PArt MgyptUn, text, p. 414. 

^4^ A History ok Akt in Ancient Euvht. 

with offerings and others playing upon musical instruments, 
advancing towards the deceased, who has his daughter upon his 
knees and his wife seated at his right hand (Fig. 269). 

The two often reproduced players upon the harp in the tomb of 
Rameses 1 1 1, (long called Brace's Tomb, after its discoverer) belong 
to the same class of representations (Fig. 271). Robed in a long 
black mantle, the musician abandons himself entirely to his music. 
The draughtsmanship of the arms is faulty, but the pose of the 
figure is natural and life-like. The harp is very richly ornamented ; 

Fjg. 175.— Head of the 

its base terminates in a royal head rising from a circlet of ample 
necklaces. The wood seems to be inlaid with colour. 

Among the most interesting of the painted figures in the royal 
tombs are the prisoners of war and other representations of foreign 
and conquered races. We reproduce two of these figures from the 
tomb of Seti 1. In order that the care expended by the artist 
both on the costumes and upon the peculiar characteristics of the 
physiognomies may be appreciated, we have given their figures 
at full length, and also their heads upon a larger scale. 

The first of these two prisoners must have been a European, 

The Figure. 349 

according to ChampoUion. His white skin, his straight nose, and 
the tattooing upon his arms all help to prove this (Figs. 272 and 
273), He is dressed in a long robe, bordered with a rich fringe 
and covered with ornaments. This robe is held up by a lai^e 
knot over the left shoulder, but it leaves one half of his body with- 
out a covering. His profile is very curious ; the nose is large and 

Fig. 276. — Winged figure. Disetiplioti, vol, ii. pi. 91. 

aquiline, his beard curled and wavy, and down by his right ear 
hangs one of those side locks which were, in Egypt, the peculiar 
property of infancy. Long tresses hanging down on each side of 
the brow, and two fringe-like bands passing round the head 
complete this strange head-dress. 

The Individual in the second figure appears to be an Ethiopian 

,"35° ' A History ok Art in Ancient Egvi'T. 

(Figs. 274 and 275). His costume is comparatively simple. It 
consists of a pair of drawers kept in place by a wide band like a 
baldrick, which is passed over the left shoulder and tied round the 
loins. The end of this baldrick hangs down between the legs ; it 
is decorated with rosettes and 
edged with a band upon which 
circular ornaments are scattered. 
The almost negro features are 
similar to those represented in 
the bas-relief at the Ramesseum 
which is reproduced in Fig. 221. 
The shape of the head-dress, too, is 
similar. The artist has had some 
difficulty with the woolly hair, 
and has attempted to render its 
appearance by a series of knots 
strung together. In this part of 
the picture, as in Fig. 273, there 
is some conventionality, but in 
the outline of the figure and 
especially of the face, we find the 
characteristic genius of Egyptian 
art, the power to create types 
which are at once life-like and 
general, to epitomize all those 
attributes which constitute a 
species and allow it to be de6ned. 
The scenes represented upon 
the walls of the tomb may be 
divided into two groups : those 
which are more or less historical, 
and those which are purely 
^^^^ religious or mystical. Among the 
latter the figures of winged god- 
desses, of Isis and Nephthys, are 
frequently encountered. They are either seated or standing, 
carved upon the sarcophagi or painted upon the wooden mummy 
cases. One wing is always raised, the other lowered (Figs. 276 
and 277). The artists of other Oriental races, and even'of the 
Greeks themselves, loved to endow the figures of men and 

Caricature. 35 1 

animals with wings. Egypt was the first to carry out this idea, 

and the winged figures which had a definite meaning when used 

in the tombs, came at last to be employed as mere decoration upon 

the industrial products which she exported through the Phoenicians, 

Fig. 277 comes from a royal tomb, and it shows how these 

-winged goddesses were sometimes combined with motives, which 

were either purely decorative or easily used for decorative 

purposes. Like sphinxes and griffins, these composite forms 

amused the eye and were soon seized upon by the ornamentist, 

while their wings, which could be either closed or expanded, 

were useful for covering large spaces and helping to " furnish*' 

the decoration, 

§ 3. Caricature. 

We have shown the artists of ancient Egypt making naive and 

sincere transcripts of reality ; we have shown them, in their religious 

and historical scenes, inventing motives, creating types, and even 

aspiring to the ideal ; we have yet to show that they understood 

fun and could enjoy a laugh. Without this last quality their art 

would hardly be complete. In the royal tombs at Thebes we find 

a lion and a donkey singing to their own accompaniment on the 

harp and lyre respectively.^ This particular bent of the Egyptian 

artist is seen at its best, however, in a group of remains which are 

called the Satirical Papyri^ and apparently date from the nineteenth 

dynasty. The Egyptians, like the Greeks after them, seem to 

have understood that sculpture properly speaking, the art that 

produces figures of large size from such materials as bronze and 

marble, does not lend itself to the provocation of laughter by the 

voluntary production of ugliness and deformity. They also 

perceived that such subjects were equally ill-adapted for wall 

paintings, whether in tombs or palaces. Among them, as among 

the Greeks, the grotesque was only allowed to appear where the 

forms were both very much smaller than life and considerably 

generalized. The designs traced with a light and airy hand upon 

such papyri as that of which the Turin Museum possesses an 

important fragment are examples of this treatment. 

The drawings in this papyrus are not caricatures as we now 
understand the word. Caricature is an exaggerated portrait ; it 

^ John Ken rick, Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs^ vol. i. pp. 269, 270. 

352 A History of Art m Ancient Egypt. 

founds itself upon reality while turning it into ridicule by the 
accentuation of its most laughable features. But the drawings in 
this manuscript are inspired by the same ideas and the same 
intellectual bent as our modern caricatures. They respond to 
the universal taste of mankind for the mental relaxation afforded 
by parody, for the relief from the serious business of life which is 
to be found in comedy and burlesque. Ancient Egypt was a 
merry country. Its inhabitants were as pleased as children over 
the simplest and most homely jokes ; jests, fantastic tales, and 
fables in which animals acted like men and women, we»e as 
popular with them as with their successors in civilisation. Their 
comic artists were especially fond of treating scenes of this last 
description, and their works often remind us of those produced in 
much later times for the illustration of ^-sop or La Fontaine. 

Fig. 278,— Bailie of (he Cats and Rals. From Pritse. 

Prisse reproduces the most interesting part of the Turin 
papyrus, and we have copied a fragment of his plate (Fig. 278). 
" In the first group, four animals — an ass, ^ lion, a crocodile, and a 
monkey — make up a quartette, playing on such musical instru- 
ments as were then in fashion. Next comes an ass dressed, 
armed, and sceptred like a Pharaoh ; with a majestic swagger he 
receives the offerings brought to him by a cat of high degree, to 
whom a bull is proud to act as conductor. At the side a uni- 
corn seems to threaten a kneeling cat with its harp The 

scenes drawn below, and on a smaller scale, are no more coherent 
than these. In the first place we see a flock of geese in open 
rebellion against its conductors — three cats, one of whom has 
fallen under the blows of the angry birds. Next we come to a 

Caricature. 353 

5>ycamore in which an hippopotamus is perched ; a hawk has 
climbed into the tree by means of a ladder and proceeds to 
dislodge him ; finally, we have a fortress defended by an army of 
cats, who are without other arms than their claws and teeth, 
against a storming party of rats provided with arms offensive and 
defensive, and led by one of their own species, who is mounted on 
a chariot drawn by two greyhounds. 

" The artist's idea — at least in the lower part of the picture — 
seems to have been to paint the cats defeated by the animals upon 
which they prey. It is the world turned upside down, or if the 
painter must be credited with a deeper meaning, it is the revolt 
of the oppressed against the oppressor." ^ 

The lower part of the plate contains a scene of the same kind 
taken from a papyrus in the British Museum. A. flock of geese 
are being driven along by a cat, and a herd of goats by two 
w^olves with crook and wallet ; one of the wolves is playing on 
the double flute. At the other end there is a lion playing draughts 
with an antelope. 

One of the tombs has upon its walls a picture of a humble 
and timid cat attempting to propitiate a lion by the offering 
of a goose. ^ 

In the opinion of some these scenes are satires upon royalty 
and religion. This is an evident exaggeration. We have no 
reason to suppose that the Egyptian intellect ever arrived at the 
maturity required for scepticism. Neither the authority of 
Pharaoh nor that of the priests seems to have ever been called 
in question. But although their anger was not stirred by the 
government of the world, they could find something to laugh at in 
it. In the cat presented to an ass we cannot fail to see a parody 
of Pharaoh receiving the homage of some vanquished enemy. 
Still more personal is the cat offering a goose to a lion. The cat 
can only be that unlucky fellah who, in the Egypt of the Pharaohs 
as in that of the Khedives, has never succeeded in keeping clear 
of the bastinado and the corvee except by giving presents to the 
sheikh of his village or the mudir of the neighbouring town. In 
laying this scene upon the wall the artist was writing a page of his 
own biography and of the history of all the people about him. 
He revenged himself in his own way upon the greedy functionary 

^ Prisse, Hisioire de P Art P.gyptten, text, pp. 142, 143. 
2 Ibid. p. 144. 

VOL. ir. z z 

354 A HisTORV OF Art in Ancient Ecvn*. 

to whom he had been compelled to offer the fatUngfs of his own 

Fj<:, 279,— Tbe siile> of a pair or sanijal:i. From Cbampollioa. 

Traces of this mocking spirit are to be found in other pro- 
ductions of Egyptian art. Thus the soles of those leathern or 
wooden sandals which have come down to our times often present 

Fics. 3S0, 3S1. — The god Bes. From the Lonvre. Actual siie. 

a group of two prisoners, the one a negro, and the other a native, ^ 
perhaps, of Libya or Syria. There can be no mistake as to the 

Ornament. 355 


intentions of the artist The Egyptian seems to have enjoyed a 
laugh at the expense of his trembling enemies. Not content with 
thus treading upon them at every step he took, he added insult to 
injury by making them grotesque (Fig. 279). 

The same spirit may be recognized in those figures of Bes 
which are so numerous in our museums. It was by mere 
exaggeration of certain not uncommon features that the figure of 
this paunchy dwarf was arrived at. His animal grin, beady eyes, 
flat nose, thick lips, and pendent tongue, his short legs and salient 
buttocks, make up a sufficiently droll personality (Figs. 280 and 
281). The comic intention is very marked in a composition repro- 
duced by Prisse, in which a person of proportions rather less 
curtailed than those of the ordinary Bes, but endowed with the 
features, the head-dress, and the lion-like tail of that god, is shown 
playing upon a cithara.^ 

These productions were not always decent. The Turin 
papyrus contains a long priapic scene. 

§ 4. OrnatPtent. 

In the painted decorations with which the Egyptians covered 
every available surface, the figure played a more important part 
than in the case of any other people. But yet the multiplication 
of historical, religious, and domestic scenes, the countless groups 
of gods, men, and the lower animals, had their limits. However 
great their development might be, these traditional themes could 
only supply a certain number of scenes, which required, more- 
over, to be framed. Again, there were certain surfaces upon 
which the Egyptians did not, as a rule, place figures, either 
because they would be seen with difficulty, or, as in the case of 
ceilings, because taste warned them that it would be better to 
treat such a surface in some other fashion. Between the lofty 
roofs of the hypostyle halls and the sky which covers our heads 
the Egyptian decorator established a relationship which readily 
commends itself to the mind. The ceilings of the temples at 
Thebes had generally a blue ground, upon which vultures with 
their great wings outspread, floated among golden stars (Figs. 
192 and 282). 

* Prisse, Histoire de PEgypte^ text, p. 146. 

35^ A History of Art in Ancient Egyp 

Side by side with the paintings which deal with living form we 
find those painted ornaments which cover with their varied tints 
all the surfaces which are not occupied by the figure. Tliis system 
of ornament went through a continual process of enrichment and 
complication. Its appearance in the early centuries is well shown 
in our two Plates, III. and IV. ; the first shows the upper, the 
second the lower part of the western wall -in the tomb of Ptah- 
hotep at Sakkarah. They confirm the ideas of Semper as to the 
origin of ornament.^ That writer was the first to show that the 
basket-maker, the weaver, and the potter, originated by the mere 
play of their busy hands and implements those combinations of 
line and colour which the ornamentist turned to his own use when 
he had to decorate walls, cornices, and ceilings. The industries 
we have named are certainly older than the art of decoration, and 

Kio. 381. — VuUures on a ceiling. 

the forms used by the latter can hardly have been transferred from 
it to mats, woven stutTs, and earthen vessels. In the regularity with 
which the lines and colours of early decoration are repeated it is 
easy to recognize the enforced arrangement of rushes, reeds, and 
flaxen threads, while chevrons and concentric circles are the 
obvious descendants of the marks traced by the finger or rude 
implement of the potter upon the soft clay. 

In these examples the intentions of the decorator are easily 
grasped. He has begun with a ground of rush-work, like that 
which is also found in the tomb of Ti.^ In the compartments 

' SEiiPEYi.(G.},DerS/i!i'ideii Technischen und Tektonhchen Kumten,odtr Praktiuhe 
jEstheHk. Munich, 1860-3,2 vols. 8vo, witli 22 plates, some coloured, and numerous 
engravings in the text. 

' Prisse, Hiitoire dt I' Art Agyptien, text, p. 418. 



between the vertical bars he has imitated the appearance of mat 
walls, and of windows closed by the same contrivances (see 
Fig. 165). As if to prevent mistakes, he has been careful to 
introduce the cords, rings, and lath, by which the lower ends 
of the mats are kept in place. The design of the ornament is 
quite similar to those produced to this day by the basket or mat- 
maker. They are squares, lozenges, and chevrons. In the middle 
of the lozenges we find little crosses or circles of a different colour, 
which help to lighten the effect. Each mat has a red border at 
its lower end, which forms a satisfactory tailpiece, and unites it 
with the straight lath. There are narrow grooves between the 
mats in which the chains for drawing the latter up and down seem 
to be imitated. In any case, this latter detail is 'copied from the 
productions of one of the oldest of civilized industries — that of the 

Fius. 283, 284.— DctuLt from tbe 11; 

Six colours are used in this decoration : black, white, red, yellow, 
green, and blue. The result is sober, well-balanced, and by no 
means without harmony. 

In other parts of the same tomb we find this taste for literal 
imitation applied to another theme. As interpreted by the 
ornamentist, lotus and papyrus were sure in time to put on 
conventional forms, but here those vegetables found are repro- 
duced with a feeling for truth that could not be excelled by a 
modern flower painter (Fig. 283).' In Fig. 284 a bird among 
the lotus-stalks is in the grasp of a human hand. 

' DUMISCHEN, Sesulfaie dtr Archieologhchphoiograpkhchtn Exprditton. Berlin, 
1869, folio, pan i. plale 8. 

358 A Hestorv of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The ornamentist also borrowed motives from those robes and 
carpets of varied colour, which are preserved for us in the 
paintings (see Fig. 285), But with time and experience his 
hand became more skilful, his imagination more active, and he 
was no longer contented to convey his ideas wholesale, from 
nature on the one hand, and on the other from those humble 
arts which flourish even in the earliest ages of every civilized 
society. He learnt to create designs for himself — designs which 
can certainly not be traced to the mats and tissues which formed 
his first models. Our Figure 
286 will give some idea of the 
variety of motives to be found 
upon the panels and ceilings of 
the tombs and other buildings at 
Thebes. The chess-board pattern 
which was so much used during 
the Ancient Empire, is found 
here also ; but by its side ap- 
pear patterns composed of frets, 
meandering lines, and rosettes. 
Below these, again, are designs in 
which lines twist themselves into 
volutes and spirals, crossing each 
other and enclosing lotus flowers, 
rosettes, and forms like the shafts 
of columns. The flowers are in 
no way imitative ; their motives 
have been suggested, not sup- 
plied, by nature. The papyrus 
Fig. 185.— Carpet hung across « pavilion. ^ay have given the first idea for 
the sixth of these designs, while 
in the last we find a motive which afterwards played an important 
part in Greek and Roman ornament — namely, the skull of an ox. 
The two specimens of this last-named motive given by Prisse, are 
taken from tombs of the eighteenth and twentieth dynasties.' 

These tombs and the mummy cases they contain are often 
decorated with symbolic ornament, as well as with geometrical 
designs and those suggested by the national flora. The compart- 
ments of ceiling decorations have scarabs in their centres, and 
' PRi:-.r.F, Hiitoire de FArt Agyptitn, text. p. 369. 


Fig. 285.— Specimens of ceiling decoralioiis. From Prisii 









( I 

Ornament. 361 

upon the mummy cases it is occasionally substituted for the 
urseus-crowned disk in the centre of a huge pair of extended 
wings. Beneath it, figures of Isis or Nephthys, the guardians of 

Fig. 287. — Painling on a mummy caie. Dcseriflita, vol. li. pL 58. ^r 

the tomb, are found (Fig. 287). The effect is similar to that of 
the winged globes which are found upon cornices. In the latter 
■ the disk which represents the sun is red, and stands boldly out 
from the green of the two wings. The latter, again, are relieved 

Fic. aS8.— Winged globe. From Prisse. 

against a striped ground, on which bands of red, blue, and white 
are laid alternatively. Thanks to the happy choice of these 
colours, the result is excellent from a decorative point of view, 

VOL. II. 3 A 

362 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

and that in spite of its continual repetition and the simplicity of 
its lines. 

Among the original motives to be found in these paintings, 
there is yet another which deserves to be named for its uncommon 
character, we mean those tables for offerings which are shown 
loaded with vases and other objects of a like nature. As if to 
mark the importance of the funerary gifts, the stems of these 
tables are made so lofty that they rise high above two trees, 
apparently cypresses, which grew right and left of their feet 
(Figs. 289 and 290). 

The Egyptians made use of the afterwards common decorative 
motive of alternate buds and open blooms of lotus, but they 
entirely failed to give it the lightness and elegance with which it 
was endowed by the Greeks. Their buds were poor and meagre^ 
their flowers heavy, and the general design not without stiffness.' 

The colours are often well preserved, at least in parts, and, as 
one combination is repeated several times, it is easy to restore the 
missing parts by reference to those which are intact. The gilding, 
however, has disappeared, and left hardly a trace behind. Gold 
was used pretty generally in order to give warmth and brightness. 
The obelisks, those of Hatasu for instance, were gilded upon all 
four faces ; the winged globe was sometimes gilded,^ and so 
were the bronze plates with which the temple doors were covered. 
The important part played by the gilders, some of whose books 
of gold have come down to our time,^ is chiefly known to us 
by the inscriptions. Their employment may also be divined here 
and there by the fashion in which the stone has been prepared, 
sometimes by the peculiar colour effects in certain parts of the 

In some tombs gold is found in its pure state. During the 
excavations at the Serapeum, Mariette opened the tomb of Ka- 
em-nas, a son of Rameses II. When the mummy chamber was 
entered, the lower parts of the walls and of the mummy cases 
shone with gold in the candle-light. The floor was strewn with 
scraps of the same metat, and as many as four books of gold leaf 

1 Lepsius, Denkmaler^ part iiL plate 62. Prisse, Histoire de PArt Agyptien^ 
atlas, plate lettered Frists Fleuronnkes, 

2 Description^ Antiquithy vol. ii. p. 533. 

' There is one of these books in the Louvre {Salle Funh^aire, case Z) ; the gold 
leaf which it contains differs from that now in use only in its greater thickness. 

Ornament. 363 

were found in the tomb. Mariette was then in want of funds, and 
in order that the excavations might proceed, he obtained authority 
from the French consul to sell this gold, to which of course, no 
scientific interest was attached. The thick gold mask of the 
prince and the fine jewelry which adorned his mummy are now 
in the Louvre. 

The mummy's toe-nails, bracelets, and lips, and the linen 
mask over its face, were very often gilt. The feet are sometimes 
entirely gilt. So too is the shroud. Those of princes and great 
personages are sometimes covered with gold from head to foot. 

Figs. 289, 190.— Tables for offerings ; from the psjntings in a royal tomb. 

The Egyptian artisans understood these delicate operations at a 
very early date. Even in the tombs at Beni-Hassan we find the 
process of gold-beating illustrated in full. We need hardly say 
that a decorative industry which disposed of such complete 
resources, thoroughly understood what we call graining, the 
imitation of the veins and textures of wood, and also those of the 
different kinds of granite, upon other substances. In more than 
one instance we find the commoner kinds of stone thus made to 
look like rarer and more costly materials. 



I I. Definition and Characteristics of Indtistrial Art 

The expression, industrial art, has sometimes been severely 
criticised, but yet it answers to a real distinction founded upon the 
nature of things, and we do not see that it could be dispensed 
with. When the artist sets about making a statue or a picture his 
only aim is to produce a fine work. He does not take utility, in 
the unphilosophic sense of the word, into account. The task 
which he sets before himself is to discover some form which shall 
truly interpret his own individual thoughts and feelings. This 
done, his end is accomplished. The resulting work of art is self- 
contained and self-sufficient. Its raison d'etre is to satisfy one of 
the deepest and most persistent desires of the human mind, the 
(esthetic sentiment, or instinct for the beautiful. 

In the industrial arts it is different. When a cabinet-maker or 
a potter sets to work to produce an easy chair, or a vase, his first 
idea is to make a chair in which one may sit comfortably, or a 
vessel to which liquids may be safely entrusted and from which 
they may be easily poured. At first, the artisan does not look 
beyond fulfilling these wants, but a time comes, and comes very 
soon, when he feels impelled to ornament the furniture or pottery 
upon which he is at work. He is no longer content to turn out 
that which is merely useful ; he wishes everything that comes from 
his hands to be rich and beautiful also. He begins by adding 
ornament made up of dots and geometrical lines ; this he soon 
follows up with forms borrowed from organic life, with leaves and 
flowers, with figures of men and animals ; and from an artisan he 
springs at once to be an artist. But his productions are strictly 
works of industrial art, and although they may deserve a high 

Definition and Characteristics of Industrial Art. 365 

place in right of their beauty, that beauty is only in some sort an 
excrescence, it does not affect the primary object of the matters to 
which it is applied, although it may greatly increase their value 
and interest. 

In view of this definition, it may be asserted that architecture 
itself is one of the industrial arts. The first duty of the con- 
structor is to make his building well fitted, for the object it has 
to serve. The house must afford a proper shelter for its in- 
habitants, the tomb must preserve the corpse entrusted to it 
from all chance of profanation, the temple must shield the statue 
or the symbol of the god from curious glances, and afford con- 
venient space for ritual celebrations. These requirements may 
be fulfilled by edifices which have no pretensions to beauty. 
With a roof and a certain number of naked walls, it is always 
possible to cover and enclose a given space, and to divide it 
into as many portions as may be desired. Such a process has 
nothing in common with art. Art steps in when the builder 
attempts to endow his work with that symmetry which does not 
exclude variety, with nobility of proportion, and with the charm 
of a decoration in which both painter and sculptor play their 
parts. The constructor then gives place to the architect. The 
latter, of course, always keeps the practical end in view, but it 
is not his sole preoccupation. The house, as he builds it, has 
to respond to all the wants, intellectual as well as corporeal, of 
civilized man ; the tomb must embody his ideas of death and a 
future life ; the magnificent dimensions and the gorgeous decora- 
tions of the temple must give expression to the inexpressible, 
must symbolize the divine majesty to the eyes of men, and help 
to make it comprehensible by the crowds that come to sacrifice 
and pray. 

In all this, the role played by art is so preponderant that it 
would be unjust to class architecture among the industrial arts. 
The ambition of those who built the temple of Amen, at Karnak, 
or that of Athene, on the Acropolis, was to produce a work 
which should give faithful expression to the highest thoughts 
which the human mind can conceive. In one sense, architec- 
ture may be called the first of the arts. In those great com- 
positions whose remains we study with such reverence, whose 
arrangements we endeavour with such care to re-establish, it 
was the architect who determined what part the painter and the 

366 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

sculptor should take in the work, who laid out for them the 
spaces they were called upon to fill. 

Although we shall not include architecture among* the indus- 
trial arts, the distinction which we have established loses none 
of its practical importance. We must acknowledge, however, 
that there are certain classes of objects which lie upon the border- 
line between the two. categories, so that we have some difficulty 
in deciding whether they belong to fine or to industrial art 
The work of some Cellini of ancient times, or of our own day, 
may be classed, for instance, by its general form and ostensible 
use, among the more or less utilitarian productions of the gold- 
smith or silversmith ; but, on the other hand, it may be adorned 
with figures executed in such a fashion that we are tempted 
to place it among works of sculpture. Rigorous and inflexible 
definitions have, in fact, to be confined to the exact sciences, 
such as geometry. In the complexity of life, definitions and 
classifications can only be adhered to with a reservation. They 
help the historian to find his way amid the infinite diversity of 
phenomena, but he is the first to acknowledge that they are far 
from having an absolute value. They must be taken for what 
they are worth, simply as methods of exposition, as approxima- 
tions which are useful and convenient, though more or less 

We have no intention of writing a history of Egyptian in- 
dustry. We refer those who require an account of it to the 
voluminous work of Sir Gardner Wilkinson, where they will 
find abundant details upon the trades of Egypt and the materials 
which they employed. We shall be content with selecting a few 
examples from the chief industries upon which the wealth of 
Egypt depended, in order to show how her artisans, like those 
of Greece, sought to give a certain amount of artistic value to 
every object that left their hands. Forms and motives which we 
have encountered in the higher branches of art are there again to 
be found. When civilization is in its first infancy, and the plastic 
instinct just struggling into life, it is from those handicrafts which 
may be called elementary or primitive that art borrows its first 
combinations of line and colour. But afterwards, when art has 
developed itself and created a style expressive of the national 
genius, the process is reversed, and the handicraftsman borrows 
in turn from the artist. In our modern society the use of 

Glass and Pottery. 367 

machines and the division of labour have put a great gulf between 
the workman and the artist. Among the ancients it was very 
different. The workman was responsible for his work from in- 
ception to completion, and he expended upon it all the inventive- 
ness, taste, and skill, that he possessed. He was not the slave of 
a machine turning out thousands of repetitions of a single object 
with inflexible regularity. Every day he introduced, almost 
without knowing it, some variation upon his work of the day 
before ; his labour was a perpetual improvisation. Under such 
conditions it is difficult to say where the artist began and where 
the handicraftsman left off. In spite of the richness and subtlety 
of their idioms, the classic languages were unable to mark thi§ 
distinction. In Greek, as in Latin, there was but a single term 
for two positions which seem to us by no means equal in dignity. 

§ 2. Glass and Pottery. 

The potter s is, perhaps, the oldest of all the crafts. Among the 
relics of the cave-men and lake-dwellers of the West, the remains 
of rough pottery, shaped by the hand and dried either by the sun 
or in the neighbourhood of the domestic hearth, have been found. 
The Egypt of the earliest dynasties was already more advanced 
than this. The vases found in the mastabas show by their 
symmetrical shapes that the potter's wheel was already in use, and 
by their quality, that, although the Egyptians were content to 
dry their bricks in the sun, they fired their pottery in kilns and 
thoroughly understood the process.^ 

Egypt afforded an abundant supply of excellent potter s earth, 
and her inhabitants, like those of ancient Greece and Italy, 
employed terra-cotta for purposes to which we should now apply 
glass, wood, or metal. A good idea of the varied uses to which 
the material was put may be obtained from the early chapters 
of the work in which Dr. Birch has traced the history of ancient 
pottery, with the help of numerous illustrations.^ 
We shall not dwell upon common earthenware. It is represented 

* The oldest representation of the potter's wheel yet discovered is in one of the 
paintings at Beni-Hassan. It is reproduced in Birch's Ancient Pottery^ p. 14. 

2 S. Birch, A History of Ancient Pottery^ Egyptian^ Assyrian^ Greeks Etruscan, 
and Roman, 1 vol. 8vo, 1873. London, Murray. 

368 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

by numerous vessels from the most ancient tombs in the Memphite 
necropolis ; they are of a reddish or yellowj h colour, and, in spite 
of the absence of all glaze, they hold water perfectly well. Like 
Greek vessels of the same kind they have sometimes three ears 
or handles {Fig. 291). Examples of coupled vessels, like those 
found in Cyprus, have also been discovered. They communicate 
with one another by a tube and are kept together by a common 

Fio. 39[. — Pitcher of red earth. Brilish Museum. 

handle (Fig. 292). Of all the representative specimens of earthen- 
ware from the mastabas given by Lepsius, there is but one which 
does not seem to belong to the category of domestic pottery. It 
is a kind of aryballus, and is gracefully ornamented with inter- 
lacing circles.^ In later times many of these unglazed vases were 
decorated with the brush, but they were not remitted to the oven 
after that operation.^ The colour was therefore without lustre 
or solidity, and the designs were always very simple. To this 
* Lepsius, Venkmaltr, pari ii. pi. 153. ^ Birch, Andent Pottery, p. 37. 

Glass and Pottery. 369 

group belong the vases shaped in the form of men, women, or 
animals, which are cfimmon enough in museums.' Sometimes 
a head, recalling that of the god Bes, is sketched in low relief upon 
a vase, and in a few instances a pair of small arms complete the 
fanciful design (Fig. 293). 

Another kind of pottery, that known as Egyptian porcelain, must 
be noticed in greater detail. This designation is inexact. The proper 
name would be Egyptian faience. It consists of white sand, gently 
fused, and overspread with a glaze of coloured enamel. This enamel 
is composed of flint and soda, with the addition of a colouring 

Fig. 392. — Red earthenware. British Maseum, 

matter. This faience has been fired with such care that it is able 
to support the high temperature of a porcelain kiln without damage. 
Vases of many different kinds, enamelled tiles, statuettes (Fig. 294), 
sepulchral y^wrzWj (Figs. 96 and 97, Vol. I.), neck ornaments 
and other articles for decorating the person, amulets (Fig. 295), 
scarabs, rings, and many other articles were made in this material. 

Vases were generally either blue or apple green. A very small 
number of them were ornamented with figures of men or animals, 
always treated in a purely decorative fashion. No vase has yet 
^ Birch, Andenl PotUry, Figs. 23 and 25. 

VOL. II. 3 B 

370 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

been discovered with any attempt to portray an incident upon it 
The figures are never united by a subject. Bouquets of lotus 
around some central motive are of most frequent occurrence 
(Fig. 296). Sometimes these flowers are combined with mystic 
symbols, like the eyes in Fig. 297, These designs, which are 
in black, are produced by inlaying coloured enamel. 

Two of the vases which we reproduce {Figs. 296 and 297) 
are similar to those shown in the bas-reliefs, in scenes of libation 


to the gods or to the dead. Their form is that of the Greek 
<f)id\i) and the Latin patera. Numerous bottles have also been 
found whose general shape exactly resemble that of the Greek 
apv0a\\os (Fig. 298). 

The blue with which these objects are covered has often 
preserved a brilliance and transparency which could not even 
now be surpassed. Yellow, violet, and white glazes are also met 
with, but less frequently. The hieroglyphs which many of them 
bear prove that the manufacture of these little articles was in full 

Glass and Pottery. 


swing under the three great Theban dynasties, that it continued 
through the Saite period, and that under the Ptolemies, and even 
later still, it was not extinct. To the same branch of industry 
belong those tiles of enamelled faience which seem to have been 

used by the Egyptians from very early times. They were also 
used by the Assyrians, as we shall see hereafter. "These tiles 
were used very extensively in eastern and southern countries, 
and are found both in palaces and in private dwellings. In the 

Fig. 297. — Enamelled earlhennai 

Biilish Museum. 

towns of Turkey and of Modern Egypt, in the towns and villages 
of Algeria and of all the African coast as far as the Straits of 
Gibraltar, thousands of examples are to be found. The freshness 
which seems to result from their use and the enduring brilliancy 

372 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

of their colours make these tiles very p>opuIar with the inhabitants 
of hot climates." ' 

We do not know whether these tiles were used for the floors 
and walls in the dwellings of rich Egyptians or not, but it appears 
certain that their manufacture was understood even as early as 
the Ancient Empire, The doorway of a chamber in the stepped 
pyramid of Sakkarah is enframed with enamelled plaques. A 
sketch of Perring's, which we reproduce, gives a good idea of 
this arrangement (Fig. 299).* Some of these plaques are no'w 
in London, but a still larger number are in the Berlin Museum, 

where the doorway as a whole has been restored, the missing 
parts being replaced by copies. Our Figures 300—302 show 
the back, the front, and the profile, of a single plaque. The 
obverse is slightly convex, and covered with a greenish-blue glaze ; 
the reverse has a salient tenon which was held securely by the 
mortar. Through a small hole in this tenon a rod of wood or 
metal may have passed which, by uniting all the plaques in each 
horizontal row, would give additional solidity to the whole arrange- 

• Brongniart, Histoiredela Ceramique, vol. ii. p. 95. 

» See also Lepsius, Dtnkmahr, part ii. pi. 2, and the Vtruiehntsi dtr ^gyptiuhm 
AUtrthiimer of Ihe Berlin Museum, 2879, p. 25. 

Glass and Pottery. 373 

ment.' On the backs of several plaques there are marks which 
seem to be rotation numbers. They are figured in the centre of 
Perring's sketch. Other bricks from the same doorway are covered 
with an almost black enamel. They form the horizontal mouldings 
between the rows of upright bricks, and are decorated with a. sort 
of arrow-head pattern. 

This fashion endured throughout the Theban period. The 
most important relic of it which we now possess is from the 
decoration of a temple built by Rameses III. to the north-west 
of Memphis, near the modern Tell-el-Yahoudeh, upon the railway 
from Cairo to Ismailia. The building itself was constructed of 
crude brick, the walls being lined with enamelled tiles. The 

Figs. 300 — 302. — Enamelled plaque from Ihe Stepped Pyramid. 

royal ovals and titles were cut in the earth before it was fired, 
and afterwards filled up with an enamel so tinted as to stand 
out in strong relief from the colour of the brick. Other tiles 
represent African and Asiatic prisoners. The figures are in relief; 
the enamel is parti-coloured, the hair of the prisoners being black, 
their carnations yellowish-brown, and certain details of their 
costume being accentuated by other hues. Dr. Birch reproduces 
some of these painted reliefs and compares them to the figurines 
rusltgues of Bernard Palissy.^ The principal fragments of this 

• We owe our ability to give these curious details to the kindness of M. Conze 
and the officers of the Egyptian museum at Berlin. One of the original fragments 
brought home by Lepsius was lent to us. 

^ Birch, Andtnt PotUry, p. 50. 

374 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

decoration are in the store-rooms of the Boulak Museum. They 
deserve more publicity than they have received. Most of them 
are purely decorative in character and bear designs of which an 
idea may be gained from three pieces of faience which are now 
in the British Museum. Two have graceful rosettes, while the 
third is covered with a pattern resembling a spider's web 
(Figs. 303—305).^ 

Certain buildings in Memphis seem to have been decorated 
in the same fashion. " The most curious thing brought by me 
from Mitrahineh," writes Jomard, "is a fragment of enamelled and 
sculptured terra-cotta, which probably belonged to a wall lined 
with that fine material. It is remarkable for the brilliant blue, 

the blue of the lapis-lazuli, which covers it The outlines 

of the hieroglyphs are as firm, and their edges as sharp as if they 
were the work of a skilful carver, and had never been subjected 
to the heat of a furnace. They are of blue stucco, inlaid into the 


'■ 303— JOS- —Enamelled earthenware plaques in the British Mnseiun. 

body of the enamel. I look upon this kind of decoration as 
analogous to that of the Cairo divans, in which we see walls 
covered with earthenware tiles which are painted with various 
ornaments and subjects." ^ Now that attention has been attracted 
to this kind of decoration, traces of it will no doubt be found 
at many other points of Ancient Egypt.' 

^ I am told that a circular base, like that of a column of a table for ofTerings, was 
discovered iti the same building. It is entirely covered with this same faience. 
* Description, A/itigui/es,\o\. v. p. 543, and Alias, vol. v, plate 87, Fig. i, 
' The collection of M. Gustave Posno, which will, we hope, be soon absorbed 
into that of the Louvre, contains many enamelled bricks from decorative compositions 
like those in the stepped pyramid and the temple of Eameses III. (Nos, 8, g, 11, 
"o. S8> S9i 60. 61 of the Catalogue published at Cairo in 1874). One of these, ' 
which has a yellow enamel, bears in relief the oval and the royal banner of Papi, 
of the sixth dynasty. Another has the name Seti I, ; others those of Rameses III, 
and Sheshonk. The reliefs upon which prisoners' heads appear must have come 
ftom Tell-el'Yahoudeh. 

Glass and Pottery. 375 

These enamels were not always used upon stone or faience ; 
their charming varieties of tone are also found upon wooden 
grounds. M. Maspero mentions as an example of this the 
fragments of a mummy case in the Turin Museum. An inscription 
upon the wood is surrounded by faience ornament of a very rich 
colour. Mariette also mentions bronzes in which the remains of 
enamel and of pietra dura inlays are yet to be seen.^ 

Enamel is glass coloured by means of a metallic oxide and 
spread thinly over'a surface, with which it is combined by means 
of heat The Egyptians must therefore have understood the 
manufacture of glass at a very early date. It is represented in 
the paintings at Beni-Hassan.^ Workmen are shown crouched 
by a fire and blowing glass bottles by means of a hollow cane, 
exactly as they do to this day. This industry continued to 
flourish in Egypt down to the Roman epoch. The glass 
manufacturers of Alexandria told Strabo that Egypt possessed 
a peculiar vitrifiable earth, without which the magnificent works 
in many-coloured glass could not be executed.^ It is generally 
supposed that this " earth *' was soda. The Venetians of the 
middle ages imported the soda required for their glass-making 
from Alexandria. It is said that Egyptian soda is the best 
known. It comes from the ashes of a plant called by botanists 
Mesem Bryanthemum copticum.^ 

Vessels of Egyptian glass are to be found in most museums, 
which recall those of Venice by their bands and fillets of brilliant 
colours. As for ordinary glass it seems never to have been quite 
transparent and colourless ; it was always tinged with green and 
slightly opaque. It was upon their productions in colour that the 
fame of the Egyptian glass-makers depended. They produced 
vases, cups, paterae, goblets, beads and other ornaments for 
necklaces and bracelets, amulets and everything else that the 
material would allow, in prodigious quantities, both for domestic 
consumption and for exportation. At one time mummies were 
covered with a kind of garment composed of multitudinous strings 
of beads. 

Statuettes, such as the two figured below, were also made of 

^ Mariette, Notice du Musee de Boulak^ p. 69. 

2 Wilkinson, Mariners and Customs^ vol. ii. p. 140. 

' Strabo, xvi. eh. ii. § 25. 

^ Prisse, History de VArt Agyptien^ text, p. 313. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

glass. The larger of the two, which still has the hook, by which it 
was suspended, in its head, is entirely covered with parti-coloured 
ornaments similar to those shown upon its right shoulder. Our 
draughtsman at Boulak had no time to finish the drawing he had, 
begun, and we have reproduced it in its actual condition rathetr 
than omit it or have it completed in any degree conjecturally. 
The details given afford a sufficiently good idea of the motives 

employed by the Egyptian artist. The ornamentation of the 
other figure Is more simple (Fig. 307), but the attitude is the 
same. There are two colours on the very well modelled head 
which acts as tail-piece to the Introduction in our first volume. 
The globe of the eye and its contours stand out in black against 
the yellow of the flesh. The wig is also black. 

Nothing can have been more surprising to the ancient traveller 
who set foot upon the soil of Egypt for the first time, than the 

Metal- WORK and Jewelry. 377 

vast number of these objects in coloured glass and in green or 
blue faience. They appeared everywhere ; upon the walls of 
buildings and upon the persons of their inhabitants, upon every 
article which helped to furnish tombs or temples, palaces or 
private houses. Everything shone with the brilliant colours of this 
enamel, whose unchanging brightness was so grateful to a southern 
eye. It harmonized to perfection with the whiteness of the fine 
linen worn by the richer classes of Egyptians, and formed happy 
combinations with the rich red and blue fringes which bordered 
their robes and girdles. Enamel was much more easily cleaned 
than cloth. Wh#n it was tarnished by dust or dirt, a few drops 
of water would restore all its brightness. The lavish employment 
of such a material doubtless did much to give the persons of the 
Egyptians and their dwellings that neat and Smiling aspect which 
so charmed foreign visitors. Herodotus tells us that one of the 
features which most strongly warned the traveller that he was in 
the presence of a very ancient and refined civilization, was the 
national passion for a cleanliness that was almost too fastidious, for 
fine linen constantly renewed, for frequent ablutions, for the 
continual use of the razor. A nation dressed in spotless white, 
shaved, circumcised and continually washed, afforded a curious 
contrast to shaggy barbarians clothed in wool that was dirty 
with long usage. Even in the time of Herodotus more than 
one tribe of Greek mountaineers was still in existence, that hardly 
differed in habits and costume from those early ancestors of the 
Hellenes who, as Homer tells us, ** slept upon the bare ground 
and never washed their feet." 

§ 3. Metal-work and Jewelry. 

Egypt had, perhaps, her age of stone. MM. Hamy and 
Fran9ois Lenormant have called attention to the cut and polished 
flints which have been found in Egypt, and Mariette brought a 
whole series of them to the Universal Exhibition of 1878. 
Mariette, however, was careful to remark that some of these flint 
implements, exactly similar in appearance to those found in the 
open air,; were discovered in the tombs, among the mummies.^ 

^ Mariette, De la Galerie de VAgypte Andenne d V Exposition Rktrosputive du 
Trocadh'o, 1878, pp. iii, 112. Wilkinson, The Manners and Customs of the 
Ancient Egyptians ytX.z, vol. ii. p. 261. 

VOL. II. 3 c 


378 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

These flint knives, therefore, are not necessarily anterior to the 
commencement of Egyptian history, that is to say to the first 
dynasties mentioned by Manetho. Moreover, Herodotus tells us 
that it was with a flint knife that the Egyptian embalmer made 
his first incision upon the corpse entrusted to him.^ It would, 
then, be difficult to distinguish between prehistoric flint objects 
and those which belong to the civilization whose remains we are 
now studying, while our examination of the latter leads us quite 
as deeply into the past as we desire to go. 

Even under the earliest dynasties the Egyptians were metal- 
workers. ^ 

Several bronze objects are in existence which date at least from 
the end of the Ancient Empire,^ and in the bas-reliefs of the 
tomb of Ti, we see smiths directing the flame, by means of long 
tubes, upon the block of metal which they are forging (Fig. 21, 
Vol. I.). This is a kind of elementary blow-pipe, such as those 
still used by certain savage tribes. 

The Egyptians began by making use of pure copper, which 
they could obtain from Sinai and other mines within easy reach. 
Various indications allow us to conclude that they were long 
ignorant of the fact that by mixing it with a little tin its hardness 
could be enormously increased.^ In any case, they had certainly 
discovered the secret during the fifth, or, at latest, the sixth, 
dynasty. As to where they found the tin, we can say nothing 
positively. No deposit of that metal is known either in Egypt 
or in the neighbouring countries. It may possibly have come 
from India, passing through various hands on its way. In later 
years the Phoenicians brought it from Spain and the southern 
shores of Britain. The metal must then have become common 
enough, and it was used in large quantities by the Egj-^ptian 
founders. Thus when the pavement of the room in the 
north-western corner of the Temple of Rameses III. at Medinet- 
Abou was raised, nearly a thousand bronze statues, all representing 
Osiris, were found. The existence of this deposit bears witness 
to the Egyptian habit of sanctifying the site of a new temple by 
sowing it broad-cast with sacred images.* 

1 Herodotus, ii. 86. * See page 197. 

' See Birch, notes to Wilkinson's Manners and CustomSy vol. ii. p. 232, edition 
of 1878. 

* Mariette, Itineraire^ p. 210. 

Metal-work and Jewelry. 


Bronze was employed for all kinds of domestic purposes. The 
graceful mirror-handle reproduced below (Fig. 308) is in the 
Boulak Museum. So too, are the bronze hair-pin (Fig. 309) 
and the curiously designed dagger (Fig. 3 1 o). 

The analysis of various specimens of Egyptian bronze shows 
that the proportion of tin which it contained was not constant. It 
varies from about five to fifteen per cent.^ Traces of iron are 
also found in it. 

Fig. 308.— Mirror-handk. 

I, 309. — Bronze hair-pin. Fig. 310. — Bronze dogger. 

The date at which this last named metal was introduced into 
the country is still matter of dispute. Various facts brought 
together by Dr. Birch, lead us to think that the Egyptians were 
acquainted with iron at least as soon as the commencement of the 
Theban supremacy,^ but it would seem that they always made a 
greater use of bronze. 

1 Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc vol. iL pp. 232 and 401. 
* It>iii. vol. ii pp. 250. 2S'- 

380 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

The word that signifies gold appears in the oldest inscriptions, 
and in the pictures at Beni-Hassan contemporary with the twelftH 
dynasty the whole process of making gold ornaments is 
represented.^ From that time onward the Egyptian Pharaohs 
caused the veins of quartz in the mountains between the Nile 
and the Red Sea to be worked ; they also obtained large supplies 
of the precious metal from Ethiopia. Silver came from Asia. It 
seems to have been rarer than gold, at least during the last 
centuries of the monarchy. As Belzoni reirijyx^^ while gold is 
lavished upon the mummies and upon all tH^^^Hshral furniture 
about them silver is only met with in excepti^^BR^fs.^ In 1878. 
Mariette exhibited in Paris five massive patera-shaped silver 
vases, which, from the style of their ornaments, he attributed to 
the Saite epoch. 

The finest specimens of Egyptian jewelry now extant belong 
to the three great Theban dynasties. We may give as instances 
the jewels of Queen Aah-hotep, which are among the most 
precious treasures of the Boulak Museum,^ and those found in 
the tomb of Kha-em-uas, son of Rameses II. These are in the 
Louvre. The splendid breast ornament figured on the opposite 
page (Fig. 311), is one of them. It is made of lapis-lazuli and 
gold, and is thus described by M. Pierret : '* Jewel in the form 
of a naos, in which a vulture and an uraeus are placed side by 
side ; above them floats a hawk with extended wings ; in his 
claws are seals, the emblems of eternity. Under the frieze of 
the naos an oval with the prenomen of Rameses II. is introduced. 
Two tet are placed in the lower angles of the frame." * These 
jewels were funerary in character. They consist of a little chapel 
in the middle of which there is usually a scarab — emblem of 
transformation and immortality — adoring the goddesses Isis and 
Nephthys. They are called pectorals because they were placed 
upon the bosoms of the dead. Great numbers of them have been 

^ Wilkinson, Manners and Customs^ vol. ii. pp. 233-237. 

* Belzoni, Narrative^ etc vol. i. p. 277. 

^ Mariette, Notice du Musee de Boulak^ Nos. 810-839. Coloured reproductions 
of them are published in M. CifesAR Daly's Revue de P Architecture, a sequel to the 
Histoire d'igypte cCaprh les Monuments (published in i860) of M. Ernest 

* Pierret, Catalogue de la Salle Historiquey Louvre, No. 521. This jewel is 
reproduced, with many others from the same tomb, in two fine coloured plates in 
Mariette's unfinished work, Le Serapkum de Memphis. Folio, 1857. 

Metal-work, and Jewelry. 381 

found in the tombs, in metal, in wood, and in earthenware ; few, 
however, are as rich as that of Kha-em-uas. Each compartment 
of the golden frame-work is filled in either with coloured glass 
or with a piece of some pieira dura with a rich hue of its own. 

In the same case as this pectoral there are two golden hawks 
incrusted in the same fashion, which may have belonged to a 

Fig. 311. — Pccioral. Actual fiie. Drawn by Siint-Elme Gautier. 

similar jewel. The larger of the two (Fig. 312) has a ram's 
head.^ There is a necklace about its throat, and in its talons it 
grasps a pair of seals, the symbols of reproduction and eternity. 
The same emblem is held by the smaller hawk {Fig. 313), whose 
wings form a large crescent. ^ 

' PiERRKT, Catalogue de la Salle Histerique, Louvre, No. 535. 

' Ibid. No, 534. 

382 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

Living forms are interpreted in a less conventional fashion in the 
little monuments which are known as agides, on account of their 

Fic. 313,— Golden Hnuk. Actual size. Drawn by Sainl-Elme Gautier. 

shape. This may be seen by reference to one recently acquired 
by the Louvre (Fig. 314). The name of an Osorkhon of the 

Fig. 313.— Golden Hawk. Actual siie. Drawn by Saint-Elme Gaulier. 

twenty-second dynasty and that of Queen Ta-ti-bast are on the 
back. At the top appears the lion-head of the goddess Sekhet, 

Metal-work and Jewelry, 383 

modelled with great skill and freedom, and supported on each 
side by the head of a hawk ; below these comes a plate of gold, 
entirely covered with fine engraving. A seated figure with 
expanded wings forms a centre for numerous bands of ornament 
in which the open flower of the lotus is combined with its buds 
and circular leaves. 

Necklaces are also very rich and various in design, Fig, 315 is 
the restoration of one which exists in a dislocated state in one of 
the cases of the Louvre. It is formed of glass beads in four 
rows, below which hangs a row of pendants, probably charms. 
The tet, the god Bes, the oudja or symbolic eye, &c., are to be 
distinguished among them. 

Fig. 314. — J¥^. Louvre. Actu«l siie. Drawn by Sftinl-Elne Gautier. 

The beautiful group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus deserves to 
rank as a work of sculpture (Fig. 316). These little figures are 
of gold. Osiris is crouching between the other two deities on a 
pedestal of lapis-lazuli, which bears the name of Osorkhon II. 
The inscription upon the base consists of a religious benediction 
upon the same Pharaoh. Thesd little figures are finely executed, 
and the base upon which the group stands is incrusted with 
coloured glass. 

We have already reproduced specimens of finger rings 
(F'igs. 241 and 243), and the additional examples on page 387 will 
help to show how varied were their form. Many of these little 
articles have moveable or rotating stones upon which figures 


384 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

or inscriptions are engraved. Some have this merely upon a 
<^ flattened or thickened part of the ring, which, again, is some- 

times double (Fig. 318). Ear-rings of many different forms 
have been found ; they are ornamented with little figures in relief 
(Figs. 319 and 320). 

Some writers have spoken of the cloisonne enamels of Egypt. 
This expression is inaccurate, as Mariette has observed.^ There 
are certainly cloisons in many of the jewels above described — ^such 
as the pectoral and the two hawks — cloisons made up of thin ribs of 
silver or gold, but these compartments are not combined by firing 
with the material used to fill them. Where the Chinese place 
enamel the Egyptians inserted fragments of coloured glass or of 
such stones as the amethyst, cornelion, lapis-lazuli, turquoise, 
jasper, &c. The work was not passed through an oven after the 
insertion of these colouring substances ; it was therefore rather a 
mosaic than an enamel in the proper sense of the term. By an 
analagous process bronze was damascened with gold and silver, 
threads of these two metals being inserted in prepared grooves 
and hammered into place. Mariette has called attention to 
several bronzes at Boulak thus inlaid with gold,^ and in the 
Louvre there is a graceful little sphinx marked with the cartouche 
of Smendes, which is damascened with silver. 

The Egyptians were also workers in ivory, which was 
obtained in large quantities from Ethiopia. Sometimes they 
were content with carving it (Fig. 322), sometimes they engraved 
upon it with the point and then filled in the design with black, 
giving it a forcible relief (Fig. 323). The' ivory plaque from 
Sakkarah reproduced in Fig. 321, deserves to be studied for its 
technical method, although it dates from the Greek period. The 
blacks shown in our woodcut are produced in the original by 
filling up with mastic the hollows made with the point. 

Famous sculptors were especially fond of working in ivory. 
Iritesen speaks as follows upon a stele translated by M. Mas- 
pero : — ** Ah I there is no one who excels at this work except 
myself and the eldest of my legitimate sons. God decided that 
he should excel, and I have seen the perfection of his handiwork 

^ Mariette, Notice du Musee de Boulak^ No. 388. Galerie de F^gypte AncUnne 
au TrocadirOy ^^, 114, 115. 

^ Mariette, Notice du Mush^ Nos. 107, 108, 131. :.. 

Metal-work and Jewelry. 


as an artist, as the chief of those who work in precious stones, in 
gold, silver, ivory and ebony." ^ 

No traces of amber have been discovered in Egypt, and 
egyptologists tell us that no word for it is to be found in the 

A complete idea of Egyptian jewelry and work in the precious 
metals cannot be given without colour ; without its assistance the 
brilliance, softened into completest harmony by the action of time, 
1 Transaciions of the Sociely of BiOlical Ari:!iieoh^\\. part ii. 1877. 

Metal-work and Jewelry. 


as an artist, as the chief of those who work in precious stones, i 
gold, silver, ivory and ebony." ^ 

Fig. 316.— Osiri", Isis, and Horus. 

No traces of amber have been discovered in Kgypt, and 
egyptologists tell us that no word for it is to be found in the 

->■ 317. 3i8.-Ring= 

A complete idea of Egyptian jewelry and work in the precious 
metals cannot be given without colour ; without its assistance the 
brilliance, softened into completest harmony by the action of time, 

1 Tramactiom of the Society of BiblUal Ardiaology,y. part ii. 1877. 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

which distinguishes the objects of which we have now been 
speaking, can only be guessed at. Qunt best advice to those 
who wish to thoroughly appreciate their beauty, is to examine 
them in the museums where they are exposed. But even in the 
black and white of our draughtsman the excellent taste which 
animated the Egyptian jeweller may be fairly estimated. Other 
races, the Greeks, for instance, gave more lightness and a more 
refined grace to their trinkets, but our familiarity with their 
productions does not prevent us from recognizing the nobility 

t 5^" . J 

Fig. 311. — Ivory Plaque. BouUk, 

and amplitude of these designs. Their originality, too, is strongly 
brought out by their affinity to the style and decoration of the 
great national buildings ; we might almost be tempted to think 
that their designs and colour compositions were supplied by 
architects. -n^ 

The same characteristics are to be recognized on the vases * 
figured in the royal tombs at Thebes.^ They are coloured yellow 

' See two plates of Prisse entitled: "Ari Industriel. Vases en Or hmaUli; 
Rkytom et auirts Vases" . 

Metal-work and Jewelry. 389 

and blue, and both their form and tint forbid us to suppose that 

Fio. 312, — Ivory CuUnct. Louvrt. 

they were of any material but metal, of gilt bronze or gold, or of 

390 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

silver. Incrustations in enamel or coloured //-^/r^ dura relieve the 
monotony of the metal surface. Some of these pieces seem to 
have been very large. Their decoration and design is rich and 
complex. Flowers and half-opened buds, lions heads, masks of 
Bes and of negroes, birds, sphinxes, etc., are introduced. We may 
presume that such objects were made for presentation to the gods 
and preservation in treasure-houses ; few of them could have been 
put to any practical use. The great men of Egypt followed the 
example of Pharaoh in enriching the temples. The stele of 
Neb-oua, chief prophet of Osiris in the reign of Thothmes III., 
runs thus : ** I have consecrated numerous gifts in the temple of 
my father Osiris ; in silver, in gold, in lapis-lazuli, in copper, and in 
all kinds of precious stones." ^ 

§ 4. Woodwork. 

The Egyptians made great use of wood. Under the Ancient 
Empire it furnished the material for all their lighter constructions, 
to which, by the help of colour, great variety and cheerfulness was 
imparted. Even in those early ages the cabinet-maker or joiner 
endeavoured to make his work artistic. Various articles of 
furniture had their feet carved into the shape of lions* paws, or the 
hoofs of oxen.^ To judge from certain stone objects preserved in 
the mastabas, wood, which was comparatively easy to work, must 
have afforded the material for those skilfully-made and complex 
pieces of furniture whose forms are preserved for us by paintings 
from the Theban epoch. ^ 

In these pictures the labours of the carpenter (Fig. 324), and 
those of the cabinet-maker (Fig. 325) are often represented. The 
specimens of furniture in our modern museums are mostly of a 
commonplace character, but they are interesting from the light they 
throw upon the methods of the Egyptian joiners (Fig. 326). The 
richness and elaboration of Egyptian furniture under the great 

' Mariette, Notice du Musee, No. 93. 

2 Lepsius, Denkmce/er, part ii. plates 36 and 90. 

^ Among such objects is a table for libations, which was found in a tomb at 
Sakkarah. It is supported by two lions, whose pendent tails are twisted round a 
vase, Marieti'e, Notice du Mvsee^ No. 93. 

Woodwork. 391 

Theban dynasties can only be estimated from the paintings. We 

Fig. 323. — Fragment of an Ivory Castanel. l^iuvre. 

have already seen that their musical instruments were elaborately 


A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

decorated ; the harp of the famous minstrel figured on pag"e 345 
is entirely covered with incrustations, and its foot is ornamented 
with a bust of graceful design. In this luxurious age the arts of 

Fig. 324, — Workman splitting a piece of wood. Goumah. From ChampoUion. 

the cabinet-maker must have been carried to a great height. The 
interior of an ancient Egyptian house must have been very 
different from the bareness which greets a visitor to the modern 

Fig. 325. — Joiner making a bed. From ChampoUion. 

East. Chairs with or without arms, tables of varied form, folding 
seats, foot-stools, brackets supporting vases of flowers, cabinets in 
which objects of value were locked up, filled the rooms. The 


upper classes of Egypt lived a life that was refined and elegant as 
well as civilized. A great lord of the time of a Thothmes or' a 
Rameses was not content, like a Turkish bey or pacha, with a 
divan, a few carpets, and a mattress which, after being locked up 
in a cupboard during the day, is spread upon the floor for his 
accommodation at night. He had his bedstead, often inlaid with 
metal or ivory, and, like a modern European, he had other articles 
of furniture besides. 

Several pictures are extant in which Egyptian receptions — 
Egyptian salons — are represented. The company is not crouched 
upon the earth, in the modern Oriental fashion. Both men and 
women are seated upon chairs, some of which have cushioned 
seats and backs.^ 

FiG. 326. — Coffer for sepulchral 

The elegance of these seats may be guessed from the two 
examples on the next page, one from the tomb of Rameses III. 
(Fig. 327), the other from that of Chamhati (Fig. 328). They 
are both royal chairs, or thrones. The smaller chair figures 
among a number of things presented by Chamhati to his master, 
Pharaoh, and we need feel no surprise that among the supports of 
both these pieces of furniture, those crouching prisoners which be- 
came about this time such a common motive in Egyptian ornament, 
are to be found. In the one example, they are incorporated with 
the carved members which support the seat, in the other they are 
inserted between the legs, which are shaped respectively like the 

' See the illustration which Ebers calls A Heception in Ancient Egypt, {^gypten, 
vol. ii. p. 276.) 

VOL. II. 3 E , 

394 A. History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

fore and hind quarters of a lion. Each arm terminates in a lion's 
head. A crowned, winged, and hawk-headed urseus, some lotus- 
flowers, and a sphinx with a vanquished enemy beneath his paws, 
are carved upon either side of the chair. The scheme of decoration 
as a whole is a happy combination of aesthetic beauty with allusions 
to the power and success of the king. 

These elaborate pieces of furniture are only known to us by the 
paintings, but when we turn to articles of a less ambitious descrip- 
tion, such as toys and what are called bimbeloterie in French, and, 



Fio. 317.— Chair. From the DacripHon. Kic. 328.— Chair. From Prisac. 

rather helplessly, "fancy articles" in English, we have many fine 
specimens to turn to. Of these the most conspicuous are those 
perfume spoons whose handles so often embody charming motives. 
The more simple examples are ornamented merely with the buds 
or open flowers of the lotus (Fig. 329). Others, however, have 
beautifully carved figures. In Fig. 330 we see a young woman 
picking a lotus bud. Several stalks crowned with open flowers 
support the bowl, which is shaped like that of a modern spoon, 
except that its narrow end is turned towards the handle. The 

Woodwork. 395 

attitude and expression of this little figure are very good. The 
right foot, which is thrust forward, only touches the ground by the 
toes. The water in which she is about to step may hide sharp 
flints or unkindly roots, and, with commendable prudence, she 
begins by testing the bottom. Her legs are bare, because she 
has raised her garment well above the knee before descending 
into the marsh. Her carefully plaited hair and her crimped 
petticoat show that her social condition is good. 

Another spoon shows us a musician be- 
tween stems of papyrus. She stands upright 
upon one of those boats which were used in 
the papyrus-brakes {Fig. 331). Her instru- 
ment is a long-handled guitar. The musician 
herself seems to have been one of those 
dancers and singers whose condition was 
pretty much the same in ancient as in modern 
Egypt. Her only garment is a short petticoat 
knotted about her waist. The bowl of this 
spoon is rectangular. 

Another common motive is that of a girl 
swimming. She is represented at the moment 
when her stroke is complete ; her upper and 
lower limbs are stretched out to their full 
extent so as to offer the least possible re- 
sistance to the water (Fig. 257). There is 
a perfume-box in the Louvre which is sup- 
ported on a figure contrasting strongly with 
the last described. The box is shaped like a 
heavy sack, and is supported upon the right 
shoulder of a slave, who bends beneath its 
weight. By the thick lips, flat nose, heavy IS.i.i%Z'^°iS^T.: 
jaw, low forehead, and closely-shaven, sugar- 
loaf head, we may recognize this as yet another of those caricatures 
of prisoners which we have already encountered in such numbers.^ 
A perfume-box at Boulak should also be mentioned. It is in the 
shape of a goose turning its head backwards. Its wings open and 
give access to the hollow of the box. 

This desire to ornament even the most apparently insignificant 

' This figure is reproduced in Rayet's Monuments dt PArt Aniique and described 
by M. Maspero. {Cuillmde Toilette m Bois.) 

30 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

objects of domestic use was universal. The sticks which are 

FiGJ!. 310, 331. — Perfiune Spoons. Louvre. Drawn by Saint-Elme Gautier. 


shown in the bas-reliefs in the hands of almost every Egyptian 1 



of good social position, were generally provided with a more or 
less richly ornamented head. The simplest terminate in a. 
handle which appears to be modelled after the leaf of the lotus, as 
it rises above the level of the water, and, before opening to the 
full expansion, forms an obtuse angle with the stalk which sup- 
ports it (Fig. 332). Other sticks of a similar shape have an eye 
painted upon them (Fig. 333). Sometimes the handle is shaped 
like a lotus-flower surmounted by an oval knob (Fig. 334). 
Wooden pins have been found with the head of a jackal or some 
other animal carved upon them (Fig. 335). 

Wooden articles were often entirely gilt. A Hathoric capital 
in the Louvre (Fig. 336) is an instance of this. The outlines 
of the eyes and eyebrows stand out in black upon the dead gold 
which covers the rest of this little monument. 

Fics. 332— 334.'— Walk ii^-stick handles. Boulak. 

The coffin-makers were large consumers of wood. Some 
mummy cases were of that material, others of a very thick board 
made up of many layers of linen glued together with such skill 
and firmness that the resulting substance had all the hardness and 
resonance of wood. Cases of both kinds were covered with a thin 
coat of plaster, varnished, and decorated with designs in colour. 
The thickness of the plaster coat may be easily seen in the 
numerous cracks which these coffins display. 

All the decorative motives which we find traced by the brush 
or engraved by the chisel upon the walls of buildings and upon 
works in terra colta, in metal, and in wood, must have been re- 
peated upon the woven stuffs of the country, and upon those 

398 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

needle embroideries with which they were ornamented. There is 
nothing in which the superiority of Egyptian manufactures is 
better shown than in linen cloth. Linen has been recovered from 
the tombs which is as fine as the best Indian muslin. Some has 
been found which feels like silk to the touch, and equals the best 
French batiste in the perfection of its weaving. We know from 
the bas-reliefs and paintings that some Egyptian stuffs had the 
transparency of gauze. Body-linen was usually of a dazzling 

Fig. 336. — Halhoric capital. Louvre. 

white, but in some instances it was dyed red, and in others it had 
borders made up of several bands of red and indigo blue. The 
designs were either woven in the stuff or applied to it by a process 
which gave effects not unlike those of our printed cottons. 
Golden threads were introduced into specially fine tissues. But 
the great excellence of Egypt in such matters as these was in her 
needle embroider)-. Even during the epoch of Roman supremacy 
her productions of that kind were eagerly sought after.^ 

' Martial, Epigrammata, \iv. 150. Lucan, X. v. 141. 

The Commerce of Egypt. 399 

§ 5. The Commerce of Egypt, 

When, under the great Theban Pharaohs, Egypt found herself 
impelled, either by force or by inclination, to emerge from her 
long isolation, her vast internal commerce and her industrial 
development must have had a greater effect over the foreigners 
with whom she came into contact than her gigantic buildings, or 
the colossal statues, bas-reliefs, and paintings with which they 
were adorned. During the Middle Empire she opened her gates 
to some extent to certain tribes of Semites and Kushites, who 
dwelt close to her frontier. After her conquest by the Hyksos, 
and the establishment, some centuries later, of her own supremacy 
in Syria, she never ceased to hold intercourse with her neighbours. 

Her foreign relations were, however, peculiar in character. 
During many centuries it never occurred to the worshipper of 
Osiris that it was possible to live and die out of the sacred valley 
of the Nile. Thrown by some accident outside those limits which 
for him coincided with the frontiers of the habitable world, he 
would have felt as helpless as a Parisian stranded upon some 
cannibal island. In later years, after about the seventeenth 
century b.c. the separation between the Egyptians and the people 
of Western Asia became less complete. The time arrived when 
Babylon and Greece were in advance of Egypt ; but even then 
the Egyptians shrank from changing their ancient habits. Their 
well-being in the valley watered by their sacred river was too 
complete, their pride of race was too great, to allow of their 
mingling readily with those whom they looked upon as barbarians. 
Still more effectual was their unwillingness, their fear, to confide 
their mortal bodies to any other soil but that of Egypt. There 
alone could they count with certainty upon the care and skill 
which would preserve it from final destruction. Nowhere but 
in the Western Mountain could they be sure of receiving the 
necessary offerings and homage. The gods who watched over 
the mummy, who guided the soul in its subterranean voyage and 
shielded it during the tests to which it was exposed after death, 
dwelt in' Egypt alone. Military expeditions were pushed into 
Syria, and even as far as the Euphrates, but no Egyptian crossed 
the Isthmus of Suez without longing for the day of his return. 

400 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

He brought back the plunder of his successful combats to the 
crowded cities of his own country, with their countless monuments 
and their memories of a glorious past ; he could enjoy life only 
where the tombs of his ancestors and his own happy dzaelling^ 
marked the spot where he should repose when that life had 

By taste, then, the Egyptian was no traveller. But in time the 
men of other nations came to seek him ; they came to buy from 
him the countless wonders which had been created by his skilful 
and patient industry. The Phoenician, especially after the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth dynasty, took upon himself the useful offmo^ 
of middle-man ; in later days, under the Psemetheks and their 
successors, the Greek came to dispute that office with him. Like 
thp Portuguese and the Dutch in China and Japan, first the 
Phoenfcians and afterwards the lonians had their factories at 
Memphis and. in the cities of the Delta. Thanks to these adroit 
and epterpri^ng middle-men, Egypt had a large foreign trade 
without either ships, sailors, or merchant-adventurers. Upon this 
point much valuable information has been obtained from the texts, 
but the discoveries of modern archaeology have been still more 
efficient in enabling us to form a true and vivid conception of the 
trade carried on by the inhabitants of the Nile Valley. 

Ever since attention was first drawn to the wide distribution of 
such objects, not a year has passed without articles of Egyptian 
manufacture being discovered at some distant point. Syria and 
Phoenicia are full of them ; they have been found in Babylonia and 
in Assyria, upon the coasts of Asia Minor, in Cyprus, in the islands 
of the Grecian Archipelago, in Greece itself, in Etruria, in Latium, 
in Corsica and Sardinia, in the neighbourhood of Carthage ; they 
are, in fact, spread over all Western Asia and the whole basin of 
the Mediterranean. At the moment when the Phoenicians began 
to secure the monopoly of this trade the Egyptian workshops had 
no rivals in the world; and when, after many centuries, other 
nations began to pour their manufactures into the same markets, 
they had long to compete in vain against a prestige which had 
been built up by ages of good work and well earned notoriety. 




In the study which we have now almost completed, we have 
made no attempt to reconstitute the history of Egypt. We are 
without the qualifications necessary for such a task. We do not 
read the hieroglyphs, and are therefore without the key to that 
great library in stone and wood, in canvas and papyrus — a library 
which could afford material for thousands of volumes — which 
has been left to the world by the ancient Egyptians. 

Our one object has been to make Egyptian art better known ; 
to place its incomparable age and its originality in a clear light, 
and to show the value, of the example set by the first-born of 
civilization to the peoples who came after them and began to 
experience the wants and tastes which had long been completely 
satisfied in the Valley of the Nile. The importance and absolute 
originality of the national forms of art were hardly suspected 
before the days of Champollion ; he was something more than 
a philologist of genius ; his intellect was too penetrating and his 
taste too active, to leave him blind to any of the forms taken 
by the thoughts and sentiments of that Egypt which was so dear 
to him. ** I shall write to our friend Dubois from Thebes," he 
says in one of his letters, " after having thoroughly explored 
Egypt and Nubia. I can say beforehand, that our Egyptians 
will cut a more important figure in the future, in the history of art, 
than in the past. I shall bring back with me a series of drawings 
from things fine enough to convert the most obstinate.** ^ 

The forecasts of Champollion and Nestor L'H6te have been 
confirmed by the excavations of Lepsius and Mariette. The 

1 Champollion, Lettres digvpte et de Nubie, p. 113. 

VOL. II. 3 F 

402 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

conclusions deduced by the former from their examination of the 
remains in the Nile Valley have been indirectly corroborated by the 
discoveries which have successively revealed to us ancient Chaldaea, 
Syria, Phoenicia, Asia Minor, primitive Greece and Etruria. No 
one contests the priority of Egypt. It is recognized that its 
origin dates from a period long antecedent to that of any other 
race which, in its turn, played the leading role upon the stage of the 
ancient world. Justice has been rendered to the richness of its 
architecture, to the skill of its painters and sculptors, to the inven- 
tive fertility of its handicraftsmen and the refinement of their 
taste. And yet no one had attempted to do for Egypt what such 
men as Winckelmann and Ottfried M tiller did for Greece, Etruria, 
and Rome. The methods of analysis and critical description 
which have long been employed with success upon another field, 
had never been applied to her art as a whole ; no one had 
attempted to trace the steps of Egyptian genius during its long 
and slow evolution. The difficulties were great, especially when 
architecture was concerned. The ruins of the Pharaonic buildings 
had never been studied at first hand with such care as had been 
lavished upon the classic monuments of Italy and the Eastern 
Mediterranean. The works to which we have had to turn for 
information have many plates which make a fine show, which are 
accompanied with a luxury of detail which is very reassuring, but 
when we examine them closely we are amazed to find the most 
unforeseen omissions in their materials both for restorations, and 
for the reproduction of buildings in their actual condition. 

When we attempt to make use of two separate works for the 
restoration of a temple, we are met with an embarrassment of another 
kind. Differences, and even actual contradictions, between one 
author and another are frequent, and that without any new excava- 
tions having taken place between-times to account for the 
inconsistency. Both observers had the same facts under their 
eyes, and it is often difficult to decide which of the two has 
observed badly. For one who does not wish to admit pure fancy 
into his work, all this causes doubts and hesitations which add 
greatly to the difficulty of his task. 

The deeper we penetrate into such studies, the more we regret 
the insufficiency of the materials, and yet we have thought it 
imperative that we should fill in the framework of our history. It 
has one peculiar aspect which distinguishes it from all others : 

The General Characteristics of Egyptian Art. 403 

the Egyptians gave much to their neighbours and received nothing 
from them, at least, during that period during which the character 
of their art as a whole was established. The features which are 
distinctive of Egyptian sculpture and architecture were determined 
at a time when there were no races in her neighbourhood 
sufficiently advanced to have influence upon them. This was not 
the case with Chaldaea and Assyria, at least, to anything like the 
same extent. Their work, moreover, has come down to us in a 
very fragmentary condition. Egypt is, then, the only country in 
which a complete development, begun and carried on solely by the 
energy and aptitude of one gifted race, can be followed through all 
its stages. Everywhere else the examples of predecessors or of 
neighbours have had an influence upon the march of art. They 
may have accelerated its progress, but at the same time they 
diverted it in some degree from its natural channel ; they may 
have helped men to do better, it is certain that they led them to 
do what they would not otherwise have done. The goal may 
have been reached more quickly by those who had a guide, but it 
was reached by a path different from that they would have taken 
had they been left to their own devices. In the Valley of the 
Nile there was no guide, no precedent to follow. There, and 
there alone, did the evolution of the plastic faculty preserve a 
normal organic character from the commencement of its activity 
almost to its final decease. 

From all this it follows that the art history of Egypt may be 
reviewed in terms more definite, and that the conclusions drawn 
from it are more certain or, at least, more probable, than that of 
any other nation. It is, if we may be allowed such a phrase, more 
transparent. Elsewhere, when we find a new decorative form 
introduced, or a new style become prevalent, it is always open to 
us to ask whether they may not have been foreign importations. 
When such borrowing is suspected we have to trace it to its 
original source, and often the search is both slow and painful. In 
the case of the Egyptians such problems have to be solved differ- 
ently. There is no need to extend one's inquiries beyond the happy 
valley where, as in an inaccessible island surrounded by a vast 
ocean of barbarians, they lived for ages whose number can never 
be guessed. Other civilizations are to be partly explained by 
those of their predecessors and their neighbours ; that of Egypt is 
only to be explained by itself, by the inherent aptitudes of its 

404 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

people and their physical surroundings. Every element of which 
the national genius made use was indigenous ; nowhere else can 
the fruit be so easily traced to the seed, and the natural forces 
observed which developed the one from the other. 

Another point of attraction in the study of Egyptian art is that 
extreme antiquity which carries us back, without losing the thread 
of the story, to a period when other races are still in the impene- 
trable darkness of prehistoric times. A glance into so remote a 
past affords us a pleasure not unmingled with fright and bewilder- 
ment. Our feelings are like those of the Alpine traveller, who, 
standing upon some lofty summit, leans over the abyss at his feet 
and lets his eye wander for a moment over the immeasurable 
depths, in which forests and mountain streams can be dimly made 
out through mist and shadow. 

Long before the earliest centuries of which other nations have 
preserved any tradition, Egypt, as she appears to us in her first 
creations, already possesses an art so advanced that it seems the 
end rather than the beginning of a long development. The bas- 
reliefs and statues which have been found in the tombs and 
pyramids of Meidoum, of Sakkarah and of Gizeh, are perhaps the 
masterpieces of Egyptian sculpture, and, as Ampere says, " the 
pyramid of Cheops is of all human monuments the oldest, the 
simplest, and the greatest.** 

The work of the First Theban Empire is no less astonishing. 
** Twenty-five centuries before our era, the kings of Egypt carried 
out works of public utility, which can only be compared, for scale 
and ability, to the Suez Canal and the Mont Cenis Tunnel. In 
the thirteenth century B.C., towards the presumed epoch of the 
Exodus and the Trojan war, while Greece was still in a condition 
similar to that of modern Albania, namely, divided up into many 
small hostile clans, five centuries before Rome existed even in 
name, Egypt had arrived at the point reached by the Romans 
under Caesar and the Antonines ; she carried on a continual 
struggle against the barbarians who, after being beaten and driven 
back for centuries, were at last endeavouring to cross all her 
frontiers at once." ^ 

The princes, whose achievements were sung by Pentaour, the 
Egyptian Homer, had artists in their service as great as those of 

^ Rhone, Ljkgypte Antique^ extract from LArt Ancien d V Exposition de 1878. 

The General Characteristics of Egyptian Art. 405 



the early dynasties, artists who raised and decorated the Great 
Hall of Karnak, one of the wonders of architecture. 

It is not only by its originality and age that the art of Egypt 
deserves the attention of the historian and the artist ; it is 
conspicuous for power, and, we may say, for beauty. In study- 
ing each of the great branches of art separately we have 
endeavoured to make clear the various qualities displayed by 
the Egyptian artist, either in the decoration of the national 
monuments or in the interpretation of living form by sculpture 
and painting. We have also endeavoured to show how closely 
allied the handicrafts of Egypt were to its arts. 

Our aim has been to embrace Egyptian art as a whole and to form 
a judgment upon it, but, by force of circumstances, architecture 
has received the lion s share of our attention. Some of our 
readers may ask why an equilibrium was not better kept between 
that art whose secrets are the most difficult to penetrate and 
whose beauties are least attractive, not only to the crowd but even 
to cultivated intellects, and its rivals. 

The apparent disproportion is justified by the place held by 
architecture in the Egyptian social system. We have proved 
that the architect was socially superior to the painter and even to 
the sculptor. His uncontested pre-eminence is to be explained 
by the secondary rd/e which sculpture and painting had to fill. 
Those arts were cultivated in Egypt with sustained persistence; 
rare abilities were lavished upon them, and we may even say that 
masterpieces were produced. But plastic images were less 
admired in themselves, their intrinsic beauty was less keenly 
appreciated, in consequence of the practical religious or funerary 
office which they had to fulfil. Statues and pictures were always 
means to an end ; neither of them ever became ends in them- 
selves, as they were in Greece, — works whose final object was to 
elevate the mind and to afford to the intellectual side of man 
that peculiar enjoyment which we call aesthetic pleasure. 

Such conditions being given, it is easy to understand how painters 
and sculptors were subordinated to architects. It was to the 
latter that the most pious and, at the same time, the most 
magnificent of kings, confided all his resources, and his example 
was followed by his wealthy subjects ; it was to him that every one 
employed had to look as the final disposer ; the other artists 

4o6 A History of Art in Ancient Egypt. 

were no more than agents and translators of a thought which 
was grasped in its entirety by the architect alone. His work, 
embellished with all the graces of a decoration which reckoned 
neither time nor materials, formed a homogeneous and well-balanced 
whole. It was in inventing, in bringing to perfection, and in 
contemplating such a work that the Egyptian mind gave itself 
up most completely to love for beauty. If we take an Egyptian 
building in its unity, as the product of a combined effort on 
the part of a crowd of artists labouring under the directing will 
of the architect, we shall no longer feel surprise at the space 
demanded by our study of his art. 

The Egyptian temple of the Theban period, as we know it 
by our examination of Karnak and Luxor, the Ramesseum and 
Medinet-Abou, gives us the best and highest idea of the national 
genius. We have had nothing more at heart than the restoration 
of these edifices by the comparison of all available materials ; we 
have endeavoured to re-establish their general arrangements, 
to describe their distinctive features, and to grasp their original 
physiognomies as a whole. But while making this effort we 
could never succeed in banishing the Greek temple from our 
minds. In vain we may try to judge the art of each people 
entirely on its own merits ; such comparisons are inevitable, 
and without dwelling upon the question we shall devote a few 
words to it. 

The differences are considerable and are all to the advantage 
of the Greek creation. Its nobility is more intimate and smiling ; 
the genius of man has there succeeded better in giving to his 
work that unity which nature imprints on its highest productions, 
an unity which results from the complete alliance between different 
organs, and allows neither the subtraction of any part nor the 
addition of any novel element. 

These contrasts may be explained to a certain extent by the 
religion of Greece and its social system. At present it is enough 
to point out their existence. 

This superiority of the Greek temple will hardly be contested, 
but after it that of Egypt is certainly the most imposing and 
majestic product of ancient art. The religious buildings of 
Chaldaea, Assyria, Persia, Phoenicia, and Judaea, have left but slight 
remains behind them, and the information which we possess as to 


The General Characteristics of Egyptian Art. 407 

their proportions and general arrangements is obscure and incom- 
plete. But we at least know enough to sketch out a parallel which 
is all to the honour of Egypt. Some of these eastern temples, 
being entirely composed of inferior materials, never had the rich- 
ness and variety presented by the monuments of Memphis and 
Thebes. Others were but more or less free imitations of Egypt- 
ian types. Suppose that temple of Bel, which was one of the 
wonders of Babylon, still standing upon the great plains of 
Mesopotamia ; it would, in spite of its height and its enormous mass, 
in spite of the various colours in which it was clothed, appear cold 
and heavy beside Karnak in its first glory, beside the imposing 
splendours of the Hypostyle Hall. 

Until the rise of Greek art, the artists of Egypt remained, 
then, the great masters of antiquity. Her architecture, by the 
beauty of its materials, by its proportions, by its richness and 
variety, was without a rival until the birth of the Doric temple. 
Her sculptors betrayed a singular aptitude in grasping and 
interpreting the features of individuals or of races, and they 
succeeded in creating types which reached general truth without 
becoming strangers to individuality. Their royal statues were 
great, not so much by their dimensions as by the nobility of their 
style, and their expression of calm and pensive gravity. The 
existence of a few child-like conventions, from which they never 
shook themselves free, cannot prevent us from feeling deep 
admiration for the insight into life, the purity of contour, the 
freedom and truth of design which distinguish their bas-reliefs and 
paintings. Egyptian decoration is everywhere informed by a 
fertile invention and a happy choice of motives, by a harmony of 
tints which charms the eye even now, when the endless tapestry 
with which tombs and houses, palaces and sanctuaries, were hung, 
is rent and faded. The smallest works of the humblest craftsman 
are distinguished by a desire for grace which spreads over them 
like a reflection from art and beauty, and they helped to carry some 
knowledge of the brilliant civilization of Egypt to the most distant 
coasts of the ancient world. 

During the earlier ages of antiquity, this civilization exercised 
upon the nascent art of neighbouring, and even of some distant 
people, an influence analogous to that which Greece was in later 
days to wield over the whole basin of the Mediterranean. For 

4o8 A History of Art in Anciknt Egypt. 

many a long century the style of Egypt enjoyed an unchallenged 
supremacy and offered a forecast of that universal acceptance which 
was to be the lot of Grecian art, when after two or three thousand 
years of fertility, of power, and of prestige, the work of Egypt 
would be done, and the time would arrive for her to fall asleep 
upon her laurels. 


VOL. II. 3 G 


The discovery of some thirty-eight royal mummies with their sepulchral 
furniture, which signalized the accession of Professor Maspero to the 
Directorship of Egyptian Explorations, was the result, in some degree, 
of one of those inductive processes of which M. Perrot speaks as 
characteristic of modem research. For several years previously those 
who kept account of the additions to public and private collections of 
Egyptian antiquities had suspected that some inviolate royal tomb had 
been discovered by the Arabs of Thebes, and that they were gradually 
dissipating its contents. Early in 1876 General Campbell bought the 
hieratic ritual of Pinotem I., — or Her Hor, a priest king, and founder 
of the twenty-first dynasty — from them ; and in 1877 M. de Saulcy showed 
M. Maspero photographs of a long papyrus which had belonged to 
Queen Notemit, the mother of Pint^tem. About the same time the 
funerary statuettes of that king appeared in the market, *' some of them 
very fine in workmanship, others rough and coarse.'' ^ The certainty of a 
find and of its nature became so great that, in 1879, Maspero was enabled 
to assert of a tablet belonging to Rogers-Bey, that it came from some 
sepulchre "belonging to the, as yet, undiscovered tomb of the Her Hor 
family."* The mummy for which this tablet was made has been discovered 
in the pit at Deir-el-Bahari. 

The evidence which gradually accumulated in the hands of M. Maspero, 
all pointed to two brothers Abd-er-Rasoul, as the possessors of the secret. 
These men had established their homes in some deserted tombs in the 
western cliff, at the back of the Ramesseum, and had long combined the 
overt occupation of guiding European travellers and providing them with 
donkeys, with the covert and more profitable profession of tomb-breakers 
and mummy-snatchers.* M. Maspero caused the younger of these 
brothers, Ahmed Abd-er-Rasoul, to be arrested and taken before the 
Mudir at Keneh. Here every expedient known to Egyptian justice was 

^ Maspero, La trouvaille de Deir-d-Bahari, Cairo, 1882, 4to. • Una. 

' See Miss A. B. Edwards's account of these gentlemen in Harper^ s Magatmeioit July, 1882. 
Her paper is illustrated with woodcuts after some of the more interesting objects found, and a plan 
of the locaie. 


412 Appendix. 

employed to open his lips, but all in vain. His reiterated examinations 
only served to prove, if proof had been needed, how thoroughly the 
Arabs of Thebes sympathized with tl^e conduct of which he was accused. 
Testimony to his complete honesty and many other virtues poured in from 
all sides ; his dismal dwelling-place was searched without result, and finally 
he was released on bail. No sooner had Ahmed returned home, however, 
than quarrels and recriminations arose between him and his elder brother 
Mohammed. These quarrels and the offer of a considerable reward by the 
Egyptian authorities at last induced Mohammed to betray the family 
secret, in this instance, a material skeleton in the cupboard. He went 
quietly to Keneh and told how Ahmed and himself had found a tomb in 
one of the wildest bays of the western chain in which some forty coffined 
mummies, mostly with the golden asp of royalty upon their brows, were 
heaped one upon another amid the remains of their funerary equipments. 
This story was taken for what it seemed to be worth, but on being tele- 
graphed to Cairo, it brought Herr Emil Brugsch and another member of the 
Boulak staff to Thebes in hot haste. They were conducted by Mohammed 
Abd-er-Rasoul up the narrow valley which lies between the Sheikh-abd- 
el-Gournah, on the south, and the spur forming the southern boundary 
of the valley of Dayr-el-Bahari, on the north, to a point some seventy- 
yards above the outer limits of the cultivated land. There, in a corner, 
bare and desolate even in that desolate region, they were led behind a heap 
of boulders to the edge of a square hole in the rocky soil, and told that 
down there was the treasure for which they sought. Ropes were at hand, 
and Emil Brugsch was lowered into the pit with his companion. The 
depth was not great, some thirty-six feet, and as soon as their eyts became 
accustomed to the feeble light of their tapers, they saw that a corridor led 
away from it to the west. This they followed, and after a few yards found 
it turn sharply to the right, or north. The funeral canopy of Queen 
Isi-em-Kheb, which we shall presently describe, was found in the angle 
thus made. The explorers advanced along this corridor for more than 
seventy yards, stumbling at every step over the debris of mummy cases 
and funerary furniture, and passing on their right and left, first up piled 
boxes of statuettes, bronze and terra-cotta jars, alabaster canopic vases, and 
other small articles, and then some twenty mummies, a few in nests of two 
or three outer cases, others in but a single coffin, and at least three without 
other covering than their bandages and shrouds. Finally they arrived at a 
mortuary chamber about twenty-four feet long and fourteen broad, in which 
some eighteen more huge mummy cases were piled one upon another, 
reaching almost to the roof. The distance of this chamber from the outer 
air was rather more than 280 feet, and its walls, like those of the corridor 
which led to it, were without decoration of any kind. 

The European explorers felt like men in a dream. They had come 
expecting to find the coffins and mummies of one or two obscure kinglets 

Appendix. 413 

of the Her-Hor family, and here was the great Sesostris himself, and 
his father Seti, the conquering Thothmes III., " who drew his frontiers where 
he pleased," and, like other great soldiers since his day, seems to have been 
little more than a dwarf in stature, together with several more Pharaohs of 
the two great Theban dynasties. The coffins of these famous monarchs 
were in the corridor, some standing upright, others lying down, while the 
chamber was occupied by the mummies of the twenty-first dynasty, such as 
those of Queen Notemit, Pinotem L, Pinotem II., Queens Makara and 
Isi-em-Kheb, and Princess Nasikhonsou. Isi-em-Kheb seemed to have 
been the last comer to the tomb, as her mummy was accompanied by 
a complete sepulchral outfit of wigs, toilet bottles and other things of 
the kind, besides the canopy already mentioned and a complete funerary 
repast in a hamper. 

Preparations were immediately commenced for the removal of the 
whole " find " to Boulak. Steamers were sent for from Cairo, and several 
hundred Arabs were employed in clearing the tomb and transporting its 
contents to Luxor for embarkation. Working with extreme energy, they 
accomplished their task in five days, and in four days more the steamers 
had arrived, had taken their remarkable cargo on board, and had started 
for the capital. And then apparently the native population became 
alive to the fact that these mummied Pharaohs were their own ancestors, 
that they had given to their country the only glory it had ever enjoyed, 
and that they were being carried away from the tombs in which they had 
rested peacefully, while so many Empires had come and gone, while the 
world had grown from youth to old age. For many miles down the 
river the people of the villages turned out and paid the last honours to 
Thothmes, Seti, Rameses, and the rest of the company. Long lines of 
men fired their guns upwards as the convoy passed, while dishevelled 
women ran along the banks and filled the vibrating air with their cries. 
Thus after more than tlyee thousand years of repose in the bosom of their 
native earth, the Theban Pharaohs were again brought into the light, to go 
through a third act in the drama of their existence. This act may perhaps 
be no longer than the first, as their new home at Boulak has already been 
in danger of destruction ; it is sure to be far shorter than the second, for 
long before another thirty centuries have passed over their mummied heads, 
time will have done its work both with them and with the civilization 
which has degraded them into museum curiosities. 

The appearance of this burial place, or cacliette as Maspero calls it, the 
nature of the things found in it and of those which should have been found 
there but were not, prove that its existence had been known to the Arabs 
and fellaheen of the neighbourhood for many years. Miss Edwards 
believes that the mummy of Queen Aah-hotep, which was found in the 
sand behind the temple of Dayr-el-Bahari in 1859, came out of the 
Her-Hor vault. The contrast between the magnificence of that mummy. 

414 Appendix. 

the beauty of its jewels, and the care which had evidently been expended 
upon it on the one hand, and the rough and ready hiding-place in which it 
was found, on the other,i was so great that it was difficult to believe that 
it had never had a more elaborate tomb ; and now the discovery of the 
outer coffin of the same queen in the pit at Dayr-el-Bahari, goes far to 
complete the proof that JVah-hotep was disposed of after death like other 
members of her race, and that the exquisite jewels which were found upon 
her, were but a part of treasures which had been dispersed over the world 
by the modern spoilers.* The tomb contained about six thousand objects 
in all, of which but a few have as yet been completely described. Among 
those few, however, there are one or two which add to our knowledge 
of Egyptian decoration. 

Not the least important are the mummy cases of the Queens Aah-hotep 
and Nefert-ari. Originally these were identical in design, but one is now 
considerably more damaged than the other. The general form is similar 
to that of an Osiride pier, the lower part being terminal and the upper 
shaped like the bust, arms, and head of a woman. The mask is encircled 
with a plaited wig, above which appear two tall plumes, indicating that 
their wearer has been justified before Osiris, while the shoulders and arms 
are enveloped in a kind of net. The whole case is of cartonnage, and the 
net-like appearance is given by glueing down several layers of linen, whicli 
have been so entirely covered with hexagonal perforations as to be reduced 
to the condition of a net, over the smooth surface beneath. The interior 
of each hexagon has then been painted blue, so that in the end we have a 
yellow network over a blue ground. Both colours are of extreme brilliancy. 
The plaiting of the wig and the separate filaments of the plumes are 
indicated in the same way as the network. These mummy cases are, so 
far as we can discover, different from any previously found. 

The funerary canopy of Queen Isi-em-Kheb is also a thing by itself. 
Its purpose was to cover the pavilion or deck-house under which tlie 
Queen's body rested in its passage across the Nile. It is a piece of leather 
patchwork. When laid flat upon the ground it forms a Greek cross, 
22 feet 6 inches in one direction, and 19 feet 6 inches in the other. The 
central panel, which is 9 feet long by 6 wide,^ covered the roof of the 
pavilion, while the flaps forming the arms of the cross hung down 
perpendicularly upon the sides.* Many thousand pieces of gazelle hide 
have been used in the work. 

* See page 29, VoL I. 

' For a description of these jewels by Dr. Birch, and reproductions of them in their actual 
colours, see Facsimiles of the Egyptian Relics Discovered in the Tomb of Queen Aah-hotep » London ; 
1863, 4to. See also above, page 380, note 3, of the present volume. 

' These measurements are taken from The Funeral Canopy of an Egyptian Queen., by the Hon. 
H. ViLLiERS Stuart : Murray, 1882. 8vo. 

^ Mr. Villi ERS Stuart gives a facsimile in colour of the canopy, and a fanciful illustration of it 
in place, upon a boat copied from one in the Tombs of the Queens, 

Appendix. 415 

The central panel has an ultramarine ground. It is divided longitudin- 
ally into two equal parts, one half being sprinkled with red and yellow 
stars, and the other covered with alternate bands of vultures, hieroglyphs, 
and stars. The " fore and aft " flaps of the canopy are entirely covered 
with a chess-board pattern of alternate red and green squares, while the 
lateral flaps have each, in addition, six bands of ornament above the 
squares, the most important band consisting of ovals of Pinotem, supported 
by uraei and alternating with winged scarabs, papyrus heads, and 
crouching gazelles. The colours employed are a red or pink, like a 
pale shade of what is now called Indian red, a golden yellow, a pale 
yellow not greatly differing from ivory, green, and pale ultramarine. 
The latter colour is used only for the ground of the central panel, where 
it may fitly suggest the vault of heaven ; the rest are distributed skilfully 
and harmoniously, but without the observance of any particular rule, 
over the rest of the decoration. The immediate contrasts are red (or 
pink) with dark grass-green, bright yellow with buff or ivory colour, 
and green with yellow. The bad effect of the juxtaposition of buff 
with red was understood, and that contrast only occurs in the hieroglyphs 
within the ovals. 

The arrangement of the ornamental motives is characterized by that 
Egyptian hatred for symmetry which is so often noticed by M. Perrot, 
but the general result is well calculated to have a proper effect under 
an Egyptian sun. The leather, where uninjured, still retains the softness 
and lustre of kid. 

The Osiride mummy case of Rameses II. is of unpainted wood, and 
in the style of the twenty-first dynasty. It has been thought that the 
features resemble those of Her Hor himself,^ and therefore that it was 
carved in his reign; they certainly are not those of Rameses, and yet 
the iconic nature of the head is very strongly marked. 

Besides these important objects, the vault contained, as we have said, 
an immense number of small articles, no description of which has yet 
been published. 

An explanation of the presence of all these mummies and their 
belongings in a single unpretentious vault, is not far to seek. In the 
reign of Rameses IX., of the twentieth dynasty, it was discovered that 
many tombs, including those of the Pharaoh Sevek-em-Saf and his queen 
Noubkhas had been forced and rifled by robbers, while others had been 
more or less damaged. An inquiry was held and some at least of the 
delinquents brought to justice. The "Abbott** and the "Amherst" 
papyri give accounts of the proceedings in full, together with the confession 
of one of the criminals.^ These occurrences and the generally lawless 
condition of Thebes at the time seem to have led to the institution of 

' Miss A, B. Edwards, Lying in State in CairCf in Harpers Magazine for July, 1882. 
' See Maspero, Une En^uUe Judiciare h Thibes^ Paris, 1 87 1, 410. 

4i6 Appendix. 

periodical inspections of the royal tombs, and of the mummies which 
they contained. Minutes of these inspections, signed by the officer 
appointed to carry them out and two witnesses besides, are inscribed 
upon the shrouds and cases of the mummies. At first the inspectors 
shifted the deceased kings from tomb to tomb, the "house" of Seti I. 
being the favourite, apparently from its supposed security, but as the 
power of the monarchy declined, as disorders became more frequent 
and discipline more difficult to preserve, it appears to have been at 
last determined to substitute, as the burial-place of the royal line, a 
single, unornamented, easily concealed and guarded hole for the series 
of subterranean palaces which had shown themselves so unable to shield 
their occupants from insult and destruction. 

The Her-Hor family therefore were buried in one vault, and such 
of their great predecessors as had escaped the ghouls of the Western 
Valley were gathered to their sides. 

* < 





VOL. II. ^ H 


A AH HOTEP, i. 291. 

Aa-kheper-ra, see Thothmes II. 

Abbeville, i. Prehistoric remains near, 

Abd-al-latif, i. 223, 225 ; monolithic 
tabernacle at Memphis called the 
green chambery 353 ; obelisk of 
Ousourtesen, ii. 172. 

Abd-el-Goumah, ii. 53. 

Abouna, i. 34. 

Abou-Roash, i. 165; pyramid of, 204. 

Abousir, i. 212; construction of pyra- 
mid at, id. 

Abydos, i. 6, 16 ; foundation of the 
great temple at, 28; the early capital 
in the nome of A., 68 ; origin there 
of the worship of Osiris, id, \ Sculp- 
ture more refined than that of 
Thebes, 76 ; portrait of Seti at A., 
123 ; entrance to the Egyptian 
Hades near A., 128, 134; situation 
of the necropolis, 136; do, 156; 
situation of doors and steles in the 
tombs at A., 157, 241 ; description 
of the tombs at A., 243 ; temple 
has two hypostyle halls, 385 ; de- 
scriptions of Mariette, 434 ; ii. for- 
tress at A., 41 ; necropolis, 241 ; 
tomb of Osiris at A., 242 ; other 
tombs, 295. 

Acacia, Nilotica^ ii. 54 ; Lebhak^ id. 

Acacia doors, i. 252. ' 

Achseans, i. 162. 

Achoris, ii. 266. 

Addeh, speos ar, i. 406. 

^gina, i. VII. XI. 

^gis, ii. 382. 

Agra, ii. 13. 

Ahmes, i. 34, 168. 

Alabaster, i. 105, 325. 

Albert!, L. B., ii. 82. 

Alcamenes, i. VI. XI f. 

Alexander the Great, L L. 21, 430. 

Alexandria, i. 55. 

AlmeeSy ii. 249. 

Amasis ; his elevation to the throne, 
i. 33 ; his deliverance of Egypt, 78, 
292 j body insulted by Cambyses, 
309 ; his monolithic chapel, 353 ; 
dimensions of the monolithic chapel, 
ii- 75> 97 j stele discovered in the 
Serapeum, 285. 

Amada, temple of, ii. 168. 

Ambulatory of Thothmes, il 135. 

Amenenjhat III., i. 347; Amenemhats, 
the, ii. 227, 333. 

Amenemheb, i. 279. 

Ameneritis, statue of, at Boul^V, li. 

Ameni, tomb of, i. 34. 

Amenophis III. L 166 ; his colossi at 
Thebes, 267 ; do, 289 ; builder of 
Luxor, 371; builder of the great 
temple at Napata, 385; temple at 
El-Kab, 400 ; ii. 66 ; the colossi at 
Thebes, 240; portrait head in the 
British Museum, 242 ; painted por- 
trait in the Bab-el-Molouk, 332, 337, 


Amenophis IV. ; his attempt to in- 
augurate the worship of A ten, the 
solar disc, i. 69 ; ruins of his capi- 
tal, ii. 5 ; his statues, 244 ; curious 
characteristics of his person, w?., 

Amenophium, i. 268, 289, 376. 

Amenoth, i. 159. 

Amen-Ra, may be identified with 
Indra, i. 50, 63 \ hardly mentioned 
earlier than the eleventh dynasty, 
68, 113 ; offerings to him as master 
of Kamak, 155, 268; the chief 
person of the Theban triad, 333 ; 
chapel at Abydos, 389 ; possibly 



symbolized in the obelisks, iL 170; 

his statues not colossal, 277. 
Ament, the Egyptian Hades, i. 157. 
Amoni-Amenemha'ft, i. 156. . 
Amoni, his inscription at Beni-Hassan, 

i. 39- • 
Amosis, (see Amasis). 

Amulets, i. 159; ii. 371. 

Anahit (Anaitis), ii. 262. 

Ancyra, expedition to, i 41. 

Animals, sacred, L 54. 

Animals, worship of, L 54-64 ; mum- 
mified, 314 ; %ures of, ii. 281. 

'^Answerers,** or " respondents," L 146. 

Anta, use of, ii. 141. 

Antinoe, ii. 66, 72. 

Antiquity, conventional meaning of the 
word, i. XLV. 

Antony, tomb of, L i6z. 

Anubis, L 143, 287. 

ApeUes, L XIV. XVI. LI. 

Apis, L 54, 67 ; the oldest tombs of A. 
contemporary with i8th dynasty, 295 ; 
new rites inaugurated by a son of 
Rameses II. 305 ; Serapeum, 306 ; 
dwelling for A. constructed by Pse- 
methek, 429. 

Aplou, i. 159. 

Ap-M6tennou, i. 144. 

Apollo Epicurius, i. XII. 

Apries, helped to deliver Egypt, i. 78 ; 
description given by Herodotus of 
his tomb, 306 ; supposed head of, iL 

Arch, the ; extreme antiquity of the A. 

. in Egypt, ii. 77 ; true A. in the 
necropolis of Abydos, 78 ; semi- 
circular A. the most frequent, 79 ; 
elliptic A. 80 ; A. in the Ramesseum, 
81 3 inverted A. in foundations, 82 ; 
offset A at Dayr-el-Bahari, 83 3 do. 
at Abydos, 84. 

Architecture ; general principle of form, 
i. 97 ; do, of construction, 103 ; 
materials, 103 ; masonry, 107 ; vaults, 
iiij concrete and pise, 113; as- 
sembled construction, 115; restonir 
tion of a wooden building, 117 ; 
sepulchral A. 126; conditions im- 
posed by the national religion, 134 ; 
civil A. ii. i ; must be judged almost 
entirely from representations on 
papyri and bas-reliefs, id, \ the 
palace, 8 ; the house, 26 ; military A. 
38 ; construction examined in detail, 
55 ; motives taken from early work 
in wood, id, ; arch, 77 ; the Egyptian 

orders, 85 ; their arrangement, 133 ; 
doors and windows, 156; the pro- 
fession of architect, 176; the sup- 
remacy of A. over the other arts in 

Egypt, 405. • 

ArcJiaological Sun^ey of Indian i. LI 1 1. 

Aristophanes, i. XVIII. 

Armachis, L 326. 

Aromati, the, i. 434. 

Arsaphes, statue in the British Museum, 
ii. 265. 

Artemis, i. 406. 

Arybailus, E 368. 

Ass, the, iL 217. 

Assassif, El, iL 79. 

Assouan, L 105 ; Turkish governor of 
A., his vandalism, 396. 

Asychis, L 347. 

Ata, L 207. 

Aten, attempt to inaugurate the supre- 
macy of, L 69. 

Athen^ Polias, temple of, L XIII. 

Atta, L 145/ 

Avaris, reconquest of, L 33; ii. 228. 


Ba^ L 285. 

Bab-el-Molouk, L 255. 

Babylon, iL 13. 

Baedeker; guide to Egypt, construc- 
tion of the Pyramids, L 201 ; theory 
as to the pyramid of Meidoum, 214 ; 
edited partly by Dr. Ebers, id, ; 
casing of the second pyramid, 233 ; 
traces of a door in the tomb of Ti, 

Baehr, L, III. 

Bahr-Yussef, L 165. • 

Bakenkhonsou, iL 177-8. 

Ballu, L XIII. 

Bari, L 352. 

Basalt, statues of, ii. 221, 235. 

Bassse, L XII. 

Battlements, iL 153. 

Beds, iL 393. 

Beggig, obelisk of, iL 175. 

Beit-el-din, iL 20. 

Beit-el- Wall, speosat, L 407, 418, 421 ; 
bas-reliefs at, ii. 246. 

Bellefonds, Linant de, site of Lake 
Moeris, iL 25. 

Belzoni ; his discovery of the tomb 01 
Seti I. L 278, 280; crowded tombs 
for the lower classes, 314; mummi- 
fied animals, 315; portico in the 
temple of the second pyramid, 330. 




Benfey, i. 10. 

Beni- Hassan, L 136 ; great inscription, 
143, 160, 156-7, 249-252 ; so-called 
proto-doric columns, ii. 95, 10 1 ; 
paintings, 333*344; the potter's 
wheel represented at B. H. 367 ; 
glass making, do, 375 ; the manufac- 
ture of gold ornaments, do, 380. 

Berbers, the, i. 13. 

Bercheh, El, ii. 72, 238. 

Bemhardy, i. III. 

.Bemier, i. XIII. 

Bes, i. 434 ; ii. 354. 

Beschir, ii. 20. 

Beuld, i. 305. 

Birch, S. ; his translation of the great 
inscription at Beni-Hassan, L 143 ; 
do, 159; his translation of the in- 
scription upon the I^ondon obelisk, 
ii. 171; ^^ Arsapfus of the British 
Museum, 265, 291 ; cylinders in the 
British Museum, 291 ; figuritus rus- 
tiques of Palissy compared to some 
works of Egyptian potters, 373 ; thinks 
iron was known at the commencement 
of Theban period, 379. 

Birds, worship of, i. 65. 

Blanc, Charles, i. XIV. ; characteristics 
of Egyptian landscape and archi- 
tecture, 98 ; modification of colour 
under a southern sun, 121; ii. 174; 
description of bas-relief of Seti I. at 
Abydos, 247 ; decadence of art be- 
tween Seti I. and Rameses IV. 258 ; 
Sabaco's restorations at Kamak, 263, 
294; his ideas upon the Egyptian 
canofty 319. 

Blant, M. E. Le, L 159. 

Blemmyes, i. 55. 

Blouet,i. XIII. 

Blow-pipe, the, li. 378. 

Boats found in the tombs, i. 184. 

Boeck, i. XXI. 

BoeoHa, i. XLI. 162. 

Boissier, i. XV. 

Bonomi, i. 9. 

Bossuet, i. I. 

Botta, i. yilL, XXVI. 

Brackets in Royal Pavilion at Medinet- 
Abou, iL 23. 

Bramante, i. 105. 

Bricks, manufacture of, ii. 53. 

Brongniart, il 372. 

Bronzes ; technical skill shown in cast- 
ing bronze, ii. 202 ; Pastophorus of 
the Vatican, 265 j Arsaphes in the 
British Museum, 265 ; bronzes from 

the Serapeum, 266 ; figures from the 
Saite epoch, 271. 

Brosses, the President de, L 57. 

Brugsch, Bey, i. 21 ; the Egyptian 
character, 41 ; translation of the 
great inscription at Beni-Hassan, 
143 ; origin of the word pyramid, 
190 ; topographical sketch of ancient 
Thebes, ii. 29 ; epitaph of Una, 75 ; 
metal on the capitals of columns, 
1 16, 176 ; social position of Egyptian 
architects, 177, 178, 197. 

Brune ; plans of Kamak, L 363, 367 ; 
of Medinet-Abou, 383 ; of Dayr-el- 
Bahari, 419 ; his restoration of Dayr- 
el-Bahari, 422, 425 ; slight differ- 
ences from that here given, 425. 

Bubastis, i. 18 ; house in, ii. 33. 

Bunsen, i. XXIII. 10, 18. 

Bumouf, Eugfene, i. IX. 

Busiris, ii. 30. 

Caillaud, i. 341, 384, 385. 

Cairo, i. 105, 163 ; ii. 66. 

Cambyses, i. 309, 430. 

Camp, Maxime du, iL 76, 147. 

Campania, i. XIII. 162. 

Campbell's tomb, L 311. 

CanephoruSy ii. 202. 

Canon ; had the Egyptians a C. of pro- 
portion, ii. 315. 

Canopic vases, i. 305. 

Capitals, lotiform, ii. 86 ; campaniform, 
loi ; hathoric, 106 ; secondary forms 
of the bell-shaped capital, 112'; C. 
plated with copper, 116. 

Caricature, confined to small objects, 
ii. 351 ; battle of cats and rats, 352 ; 
Turin papyrus, id\ papyrus in the 
British Museum, 353 ; the God Bes, 

Cartonnage, ii. 397. 

Caste, i. 31. 

Cat, the, ii. 219. 

Caviglia, the clearing of the Great 

Sphinx, i. 321. 
Caylus, Comte de, i. XVI. 
Cesnola, Palma di, i. V., X. 
Chairs, ii. 393. 

Chaldffia, i. IV., XXVI., XLIX. 
Qhamhati, bas-relief on his tomb, ii. 

Chamitic race, i. 13. 

Champollion, i. VI. VIII. 4, 89 ; first 



to appreciate the importance of Beni- 
Hassan, 249 ; the valley of the kings, 
263 ; Saile cemeteries discovered by 
him^ 301 ; his impressions of Kamak, 
365 ; gave its proper name to the 
Ramesseum, 376; carelessness of 
Egyptian masonry, ii. 65 ; his supposed 
discovery of the origin of the Doric 
order, 96 ; distinction made in texts 
between pylon and propylon, 156; 
mainly impressed by the grandeur of 
the Theban remains, 225 ; his fore- 
cast of the important position now 
held by Egpytian art, 401. 

ChardaneSy ii. 257. 

Charmes, Gabriel, i. 235 ; ii. 212, 219; 
his opinion on the bust of Taia, 

Cheops, i. 201 ; his pyramid, 201 ; do, 
227 ; stele com memorating'his restora- 
tion of a temple, 319 ; doubts as to 
its date, id, 

Chephren, i. 24, 86 ; his statues at 
Boulak, 89 ; do, 139 ; discovery of 
statues in the temple of the sphinx, 
193, 227, 221 ; detailed account of 
the basalt and diorite statues at 
Boulak, ii. 221-223. 

China, i. IV., XLVIIL, LIX. 

Chinbab, i. 165. 

Chisel, ii. 303-328, passim. 

Chnoumhotep, i. 143. 

Choephoroe, i. 130. 

Choubra, ii. 20. 

Choufou (Cheops), inscribed upon the 
stones of the Great Pyramid, i. 222. 

Chounet-es-Zezib, fortress at Abydos, 
ii. 41. 

Christy, i. XXXVIII. 

Cicero, L 129. 

Clemens Alexandrinus, i. 56. 

Cloisonne Enamels, unknown to the 
Egyptians in the proper sense, ii. 384. 

Clusium, i. XXXyil. 

Cockerell, Prof, i. XL 

Colossi, upon pyramids, i. 226 ; trans- 
port ofC, ii. 72; multiplication of 
C. under the New Empire, 239, 

Colours, used by the Egyptian 
painters, ii. 334, 336, 340. 

Columns, ii. 85 ; metal C, %% \ " proto- 
doric " do, 96 ; polygonal do, 99 ; 
faggot-shaped do, 99 ; at Medinet- 
Abou, 102 ; in the Hall at Kamak, 
id. ; at Philae, 104 ; comparison be- 
tween Egyptian and Greek C, 121 ; 

ordonnance of C, 133 ; spacing, 137; 
no rule governing intercolumniation, 

Constantinople, il 13. 

Construction, architectural, iL 55 ; 
imitation in stone of wooden C., 
59; huge stones only used where 
necessary, 65 ; want of foresight in 
Egyptian C, 70 ; carelessness, id, ; 
machines used, 72. 

Conventions in Egyptian art, iL 291. 

Copper, ii. 378. 

Coptic, study of, i. VII. 

Copts, L 13. 

Corinth, i. XV. 

Corvee, the, L 25 ; its influence upon 
Egyptian architecture, 27, 30. 

Coulanges, M. Fustel de, Za citt 
antiqtu, i. 130. 

Crane, the, in the bas-relief, iL 219. 

Crimaea, i. XV. 

Crocodile, the, in the bas-reliefs, iL 

Crocodilopolis, iL 234. 

Crown, the red crown, i. 16 ; the white 
do., 16; the pschent, 16. 

Cunningham ; his descriptions of the re- 
mains of Graeco Buddhic art, L LI 1 1. 

Curtius, Dr. ; history of Greece, L III. 
Graeco Buddhic art, LI 1 1. 

Curtius, Quintus, iL 33. 

" Cutting, the," L 435. 

Cyclopean walls, iL 64. 

Cylinders, earthenware and soft stone, 
iL 291. 

Cyma, iL 153 ; do, reversa, iL 153. • 

Cyprus, i. X., XXVI. ; painted vases, 
78, 161. 

Cyrus, L 79. 


Darius, L IX. 

Darmesteter, James, i. 69. 

Dashour, L 165, 206. 

Dayr, L 407. 

Dayr-el-Bahari, L 265, 268 ; temple or 

cenotaph of Hatasu, 421-434. 
Dayr-el-Medinet, i. 264. 
Delbet, Jules, L 42. 
Delhi, ii. 13. 
Denderah, L 326, 351, 434 ; iL 67, 69 ; 

pluteus at, 149. 
Derri, L 40S. 

Desjardins, M. E., L 302. 
Deus Rediculus, temple of the i. 104. 



Deveria, his belief that he had found a 
portrait of a shepherd king, ii. 177. 

Diocletian, i. 55. 

Diodorus Siculus ; his assertion that 
the first man was born in Egypt, 
i. 4; Pyramids, 191; height of Great 
Pyramid, 225 ; plateau on its sum- 
mit, 226; Pyramid of the Laby- 
rinth, 227 ; Tomb of Osymandias 
(Ramesseum), 266, 375 ; tombs in 
the Bab-el- Molouk, 279 : irvXciv, 
341 ; Mceris (Amenemhat III.), 
347 ; labyrinth, ii. 25 ; population 
of Egypt, 26; extent of Thebes, 30; 
the epithet cKaro/uiTrvXos, 40. 

Diorite, statue of Chephren in, ii. 221 ; 
the influence of such a material upon 

style, 303-305-. 
Djezzar Pacha, ii. 20. 
Dog, the, in the bas-reliefs, iL 219. 
Doors, ii. 156. 
Dordogne, i. XLIL, ii. 78. 
"Double," the, L 128, 135. 
Doum (palm), ii. 50. 
Drah-abou-FNeggah, i. 217, 253, 291, 

Dromos, i. 336. 

Duck, the, in the bas-reliefs, ii. 219. 


Ebers, Georg.; extent of the Mem- 
phite necropolis, i 165 ; cenotaph in 
the temple of Abydos, 264 ; his 
opinion upon that temple, id, ; his 
discovery of a tomb at Thebes, 279 ; 
his opinion upon the Ramesseum, 
381 ; the funerary character of the 
temple at Abydos, 391; his conjec- 
tures upon Dayr-el-Bahari, 426 ; pa- 
vilion of Rameses III. not a palace, 
ii. 16; pyramid of the labyrinth, 
25 ; origin of the quadrangular pier, 
90; uses of papyrus, 126; his 
opinion upon the columns in the 
Bubastite court, Kamak, 146 ; pro- 
pylons of Kamak and Denderah, 
157 ; his4)elief in the persistence of 
the Hyksos type, 237. 

Edfou, i. 351, 353; peripteral temple, 
396; foundations of temple at, iL 

Egger, ii. 126. 

Eilithyia, i. 157; ii. 400; temple of 
Amenophis III. at, id. 

Elephantine ; peripteral temple at, i, 
396 ; quarries at, ii. 75, 149. 

Empires, classification of the Egyptian, 
i. 17. 

Enamels, ii. 375. 

Encaustic painting known to the 
Egyptians, ii. 336. 

Entef, i. 38, 156, 217. 

Epochs of Egyptian history, i. 18. 

Era, Egypt without one, i. 20. 

Erectheum, i. LVII. 

Erment, iL 66. 

Esneh, L 351. 

Ethiopia; its civilization an offshoot 
from that of Egypt, L 20; its pyra- 
mids, 217; its temples, 404 ; Ethi- 
opian supremacy in Egypt, ii. 265; 
Ethiopians in pictures, 348. 

Etruria, L XLIL, 131, 162. 

Euripides quoted, i. 130. 

*' Evandale, Lord," i. 136. 

Faience, L 146 ; iL 369. 

Fayoum, the pyramids in the, L 226; 
statues discovered in the, iL 233. 

Fellowes, Sir Charles, L X., XXVIL 

Feraig, speos of, L 406. 

Fergusson, James, iL 8. 

Festus, L XXIL 

Fetishism, i. 47 9, 56-8. 

Ficus Sycomorus^ iL 54. 

Figure, the, ii. 341 ; colouied reliefs in 
the mastabas, 341 ; Beni-Hassan, 
341 ; Thebes, 344; mandore player 
at Abd-el-Goumah, 347 ; harpers in 
Bruce's tomb, 348 ; Prisoners, 348 ; 
winged figure, 349 : different races 
distinguished, 350. 

Flamingo, the, in the bas-reliefs, ii. 

Flandrin, L IX. 

"Foundations," for the service of a 
tomb, i. 144-6. 

Fox, the, in the bas-reliefs, iL 218. 

Friedrichs, Carl, L IV. 

Funeral feasts, L 143. 

Funerary figures, L 145-147. 


Gailhabaud, M., iL 36. 
Gartasse, i. 433. 
Gau, L 353, 421. 



of quadrangular piers, 90 ; campani- 
form capitals in a hypogeum at 
Gizeh, loi ; capitals in the ambu- 
latory of Thothmes at Karnak, 115 ; 
old form of winged disc at Beni- 
Hassan, 152 ; monuments in Wadi- 
maghara figured in DenkmceUry 184; 
thick-set forms discovered in a tomb 
dating from the fourth dynasty, 190 ; 
poverty of invention in Theban art 
seen by glancing through Denkmaler^ 
250 ; works in high-reh'ef from the 
mastabas figured in Denknuzler^ 284. 

Leroux, Hector ; his sketch of Philae, i. 
433 ; his opinions on Egyptian paint- 
ing, ii. 335- 

Letronne; his researches, i. 224, 232. 

Lion, the, in Egyptian art, ii. 281, 323. 
Longperier, de, his opinion on the age 

of Egyptian bronzes, ii. 197. 
Loret, M. Victor, ii. 135. 
I^tus, the, ii. 125. 
Lycian remains, i. XXVII. 
Lucian (pseudo), i. 323. 
Lutzow, Carl von, i. IV. 
Luxor, temple of, i. 270, 370 ; ii. 132 ; 

obelisk of, 171. 


Mad, i. 354. 

Maghara (Wadi), ii. 95, 184. 

Mahsarah, i. 105. 

Mammisi, i. 433. 

Mandore, ii. 344. 

Manetho, i. 18; his account of the 
shepherd invasion not to be relied on, 
ii. 239. 

Marchandon-de-la-Faye, M., i. 95. 

Mariette, Auguste ; formation of Egypt, 
i. 2 ; accession of Menes, 1 8 ; 
Egyptian chronology, 20 ; bad work- 
manship of Egyptian temples, foun- 
dations of great temples at Abydos, 
28 ; house in the desert, 41 ; protest 
against M. Renan's conception of 
ancient Egypt, 7 1 ; excavations, 86 ; 
ancient art chiefly known through 
his exertions and his contributions 
to the Louvre and the French Ex- 
hibition, 89; M. on the arch, 113; 
obelisk of Hatasu gilded, 122 ; 
sepulchral formula, 135 ; Ovfium^puL 
in the tomb of Ti, 143 ; objects for 
the support of the JTtf sometimes 
modelled "in the round," 145; 

position of the stele, 157 ; tombs con- 
structed during lifetime, 160; his 
"theory of the mastaba," 164; 
derivation of the word Sakkarah, 
166; boats found in mummy pits, 
184 ; pyramids always in a necropolis, 
191 ; Mastabat-el-Faraoun, 215; pyra- 
mids upon Drah-abou'l-neggah, 217 ; 
opening of three unexplored pyramids 
at Sakkarah, 234; tomb of Osiris, 
supposed site, 243 ; tombs at Abydos, 
244 ; steles from Abydos, 249 ; temples 
of the left bank, Thebes, 264; method 
of closing tombs in the Bab-el- 
Molouk, 278; mummy of Queen 
Aah-hotep, 291 ; tombs of Apis, 295 ; 
the little Serapeum, 302 ; temple of 
the Sphinx, 326; Sphinxes at the 
Serapeum of Memphis, 336; Sphinx 
avenues ornamental rather than 
religious, 337 ; walls of Karnak, 338 ; 
extent of the temples at Karnak, 
362 ; sanctuary in the great temple, 
384 ; temple of Dayr-el-Bahari, 425 ; 
excavations at Sais, 433 ; character- 
istics of the Egyptian temple, 434; 
contrast between it and the Greek 
temple, the Christian church, and the 
Mahommedan mosque, 435 ; ex- 
planation of its elaborate decora- 
tion, id. ; Royal Pavilion of Medinet- 
Abou not a palace, ii. 16 ; building 
materials, 53 ; brick-making, t'd. ; 
carelessness of the Egyptian builders, 
70 ; true vaults in the necropolis of 
Abydos, 77 ; inverted arches, 81 ; 
lotiform capitals in the tomb of Ti, 
86 ; origin of the faggot-shaped 
column, 99 ; origin of the campani- 
form capital, 128; proposal that it 
should be called fapyrifomiy tdr, dis- 
cards the notion that the columns in 
the Babastite court, at Karnak, bore 
architraves, 145 ; his assumption that 
they once enclosed a hypaethral 
temple, ib, ; first appearance of the 
winged disc, 152 ; obelisks in the 
Theban necropolis, 170 ; obelisks of 
Hatasu gilded, 174 ; statues in the 
tomb of Ti, 181 ; statues of Rahotep 
and Nefert, from Meidoum, 187 ; 
panels from the tomb of Hosi, 188; 
the Scribe of the Louvre, 192 ; 
brought figures from Ancient Empire 
to Paris in 1878, 211; Nemhotep, 
212; picture of geese, 220; statues 
of Chephren discovered in the temple 



of the Sphnix, 213; early Theban 
works rude and awkward, 226; 
Menthouthotep, id, ; groups from 
Tanis, 228 ; figure discovered in the 
Fayoum, 233 ; definition of the type 
of these Tanite remains, 237 ; head 
of Taia discovered, 242 ; Aroenophis 
IV. perhaps a eunuch, 243 ; expedition 
to Punt, illustrated at Dayr-el-Bahari, 
245 ; belief that Punt was in Africa, 
246 ; detestable style of the remains 
from the last years of Rameses II., 
258 ; Menephtah, son of Rameses 
II., statue at £oulak, 260; head of 
Tahraka at Boulak, 263 ; opinion as 
to the character of the statues in 
Egyptian temples, 276 ; origin of the 
Sphinx, 281 ; tomb of Sabou, sculp- 
tures, 285 ; models for sculptors at 
Boulak, their probable date, 324, 
Marie tte, Edouard, ii. 28, 55. 
Maspero, G. ; our guide to the history 
of Egypt, I 8-9 ; his opinion upon 
the Egyptian language, 13; periods 
of Egyptian history, 17-18 ; Ethiopian 
kingdom, 2 1 ; affiliation of the king 
to the gods, 2 2 ', mildness of rule in 
Ancient Egypt, 37 ; prince Entefs 
stele, 38; Egyptian devotion, 39; 
do, 43 ; the number of their de- 
votional works of art, id,) character 
of sacred animals, such as the Apis, 
66 ; his theory as to the ka^ or 
double, 126, 137-8, 140-6, 148-153, 
155-7 ; translation from Papyrus IV. 
• at Boulak, 161 ; tomb of Harmhabi, 
178 ; pyramid of Ounas, 194; com- 
mentary on the second book of 
Herodotus, 227 ; opening of pyramid 
of Ounas, 235 ; opinion on the tombs 
at Abydos, 242 ; the staircase of 
Osiris, 243 ; discovery of remains 
belonging to royal tombs of the 
eleventh dynasty at Drah-abou*l- 
neggah, 253 ; ascription of power of 
speech and movement to statues, 
289 ; proof that the gods existed 
in the time of the Ancient Empire, 
318; translation of the stele of 
Piankhi from Gebel-Barkal, 353 ; 
Hatasu's expedition to Punt, 426; 
translations of Egyptian tales, ii. 
30 ; symbolism of papyrus and lotus, 
126 ; translation of stele C. 14, in the 
Louvre, 176 ; cause of the Iconic 
character of Egyptian statutes, 181 ; 
materials for wooden statues, 197 ; 

his translation of funtrary songs, 
249 ; formula by which the right of 
erecting a statue in a temple was 
granted to a private individual, 278 ; 
on the Palestrina mosaic, 288. 

Mastaba, i. 164; in the Memphite 
necropolis, 165, 189; materials of 
the, 168; Mastabat-el-Faraoun, 169 ; 
Mastabas of Sabou, 171 ; Haar, id, ; 
Ra-en-mar, id, ; Hapi, 171 ; general 
arrangements, 172. 

Mastabat-el-Faraoun, i. 169, 214, 326. 

Maury, Alfred, i. 286. 

Maut, i. 63, 268. 

Medinet-Abou, i. 22, 102 ; the great 
temple, 260, 267-8, 375; the little 
temple, 376; il 169; the royal 
pavilion, i. 375; ii. 16; the great 
temple, method of lighting, 384 ; 
brackets in royal pavilion, 23. 

Medinet-el-Fayoum, ii. 25. 

Medledk, i. 159. 

Megasthenes, i. L. 

Meh, house of, I. 156. 

Meidoum, i. 35, 89, 165 ; construction 
of the pyramid of M., i. 200. 

" Memnon," statues of, i. 267, 290, 


** Memnonium," i. 267 ; ii. 30. 

Memphis, i. 6 ; discovery of the Sheik- 
el- Beled^ 9, 16; political centre of 
the Ancient Empire, 17, 27; our 
knowledge of the early period all 
derived from the necropolis of M., 
34 ; the early Egyptians not op- 
pressed, 37 ; worship of Ptah at M., 
55 5 significance of apis, 67 ; situation 
of necropolis, 136 ; doors of the 
tombs turned eastward, 157 ; masta- 
bas, 165 ; statue of Rameses II. on 
the site of M., ii. 240. 

Mendes, i. 22. 

Menephtah, head of, at Boulak, ii. 258. 

Menes, i., X. XLVIIL, 15, 17, 22, 38. 

Menkaura (Mycerinus), i. 326. 

Menthouthotep, ascribe, ii. 226. 

Mentou-Ra, ii. 266. 

Menzaleh, Lake, fellahs in the neigh- 
hood of their race, ii. 237. 

Merenzi, i. 234. 

M^rim^e, M., materials employed by 
Egyptian painters, ii. 334. 

Meroe, i. 20, 217. 

Merval, du Barry de, iL 11. 

Mesem Bryanthemum CopHcuniy ii. 375. 

Metal-work, ii. 377 ; blow-pipe known, 
378 ; iron, 379; damascening, 384. 



Metopes, ii. 155. 

Mexico, i. V. 

Michaelis, i. XIX. 

Michelet, L 64. 

Midas, i. XXVII. 

Minutoli, L 213. 

Mit-fares, ii. 234. 

Mitrahineh, bas-relief at, ii. 271. 

Mnevis, I 54. 

Models for sculptors, ii. 322. 

Modulus, its absence from Egyptian 

architecture, i. 102. 
Mceris (Pharaoh), i. 347 ; Lake M. i. 

7, 216, 228 ; ii. 25. 
Mokattam, i. 105, 201, 204. 
Monolithic columns rare in Egypt,ii. 66. 
Mosel i. XVII. 
Muller, Ottfried, i. III., V., XXI., 

XXV, XXXI., Liy. 
Mummies, i. 135 ; m. pits, 181 ; method 
of closing m. pit, 183 ; do. of sarco- 
phagus, 182 ; furniture of m. cham- 
bers, 183; decoration of the m. 
cases, ii. 335. 
Mycenae, i. XLIL, 162. 
Mycerinus, pyramid of, i. 205, 227, 
329 ; the sarcophagus of his daughter 
as described by Herodotus, 307 ; his 
own sarcophagus, ii. 55-59. 
Museums — 

Berlin ; i. 89 ; papyrus narrating the 
dedication of a chapel by an 
Ousourtesen, 334; funerary obelisk, 
ii. 170 ; leg in black granite, 228 ; 
enamelled bricks from stepped 
pyramid, 372. 
Boulak; i. 10, 41 ; the art of the 
pyramid builders only to be fully 
seen at B., 86, 89, 90, 139; pa- 
pyrus IV., 161 ; stele with garden 
about a tomb, 301 ; statues of 
gods, 319 ; sphinxes in courtyp,rd, 
"• 337 ; statue of the architect 
Nefer, 177; statues in tomb of 
Ti, 181 ; Rahotep and Nefert, 
183-7; Sheik-el-beled^ 183, 194; 
panels from tomb of Hosi, 189.; 
statue of Ra-nefer, 203 ; do, of Ti, 
203 ; wooden statue of a man with 
long robe, 204 ; kneeling statues, 
204 ; Nefer-hotep and Tenteta, 
207 ; domestic and agricultural 
figures, 209 ; Nemhotep, 212; 
painting of Nile geese, 219; 
great statues of Chephren, 221 ; 
Tanite remains, 230-5 ; Thothmes 
III., 241 ; Taia, 242 ; dancing 

girls, 249 ; Rameses II., 256 ; 
bronze statuettes, 312; models for 
sculptors, 322 ; Grseco-Roman re- 
mains, 274 ; glass, 376 ; bronze 
ornaments and weapons, 379 ; 
jewels, 380 ; ivory-work, ^^% ; 
wood-work, 395-8. 

British ; boats found in tombs, i. 
185 ; mummy case of Mycerinus, 
234, 319; Ritual of the £>ead^ 
ii. -287 : sceptre of Papi, 198 ; 
head of Thothmes III., 241 ; do. 
of Amenophis III., 24a ; bronze 
statuette of Arsafhes, 265 ; comic 
papyrus, 353; pottery, s6S\ en- 
amelled faience 371 ; aryballus^ 
372 ; enamelled bricks from 
Stepped Pyramid,372; enamelled 
plaques, 374. 

Liverpool ; boat from tomb, i. 185. 

Louvre; L 38, 89, 122, 127 ; boats 
from tombs, 185 ; tabernacle, ^^^ \ 
models of houses, ii. 33-4; the 
"Scribe," 183-192 ; statues from 
Ancient Empire 181-192 ; Cane- 
phorus^ 202 ; Sebekhotep, 226 ; red 
granite sphinx, 228; Tanite remains, 
235 \ statues from New Empire, 
244-260; works in bronze, 270- 
281 ; bas-relief of Amasis fromSer- 
apeum,285 ; gems,288; signs of im- 
perfect tools used, 304-5 ; portraits 
from Roman epoch, 336 ; jewelry, 
382-387 ; woodwork, 395-8. 

Turin ; stele, L 301 ; tabernacle, 
353 i statues of the Theban Pha- 
raohs, ii. 225 ; Rameses II., 257 ; 
satirical papyms, 351 ; pnapic 
scene in do,^ 355 ; enamel on wood, 

Vatican ; Pastophorus^ it 265. 


Naos, i. 353. 

Napata, i. 21 ; pyramids at, 217, 218 ; 

great temple at N. 385 ; speos at N. 

Naville, E., i. 22 ; iL 176. 
Nectanebo, i. 17, 77, 86, 353, 430. 
Nefer (architect), statue of, ii. 177. 
Nefer-hotep, il 207. 
Nefert Ari, i. 410. 
Nefert, statue of, from Meidoum, ii. 

Neith, i. 69, 301. 



Nekau, i. 24, 78. 

Nekheb (goddess), i. 63. 

Nem-hotep, ii. 202. 

Nepheritis, ii. 266. 

Nephthys, i. 54, 301 ; ii. 350, 361. 

Niebuhr, i. XXI. 

Nesa, ii. 185. 

Nestor L'Hdte, 1. 4 ; ii. 15 ; his en- 
thusiasm for the art of the early 
dynasties, 225. 

Nile, the creator of Egypt, L 2, 3 ; 
its inundations, 4, 5 ; homage to the 
N. as a god, 233. 

Nowertiouta, ii. 294. 

Num-hotep, i. 35, 251. 


Obelisks, the, method of erection, 
ii. 75 ; 169 ; ojScXcJ?, 170 ; dfi^Xi&tco^y 
id,; O. , of Hatasu, 170; d0, of 
Luxor, 171; do, of Ousourtesen, 
id, ; heights of obelisks, id, ; O. 
figured in bas-relief at Sakkarah, 
174; ovals of Ousourtesen I. on O. 
at Beggig, 175. 

Offerings, funerary, L 139-43; ii. 384; 
tables for offerings, 143-4; ii. 362. 

Oliphant, Laurence, il 175. 

Opisihodomos^ i. 354. 

" Orders," the Egyptian, ii. 85 ; asserted 
derivation from the national flora, 

Orientation of the tomb, i. 157. 

Ornament, importance of the human 
figure, ii. 355 ; vultures, id, ; origin 
of ornament, 356 ; various motives, 
357 ; ceiling decorations, 359 ; 
winged globe, 3^1 ; mummy cases, 
id, ; colour well preserved, 362 ; use 
of gold, id, ; graining, 363. 

Osarvaris, L 159. 

'' Osymandias, tomb of," or Rames- 
seum, i. 266, 375, 378. 

Osorkhon, ii. 362. 

Ouaphra, ii. 266^ 

Oudja, ii. 383. 

Ouenephes, or Ata, i. 207. 

Ouna, i. 151. 

Ounas, Pyramid of, i. 194, 215 ; 
mummy chamber of O. 235 ; the 
opening of the pyramid, 235. 

Oushebtiy or x^M' (answerers or respon- 
dents), i. 146. 
. Ousourtesens, the, ii. 45, 50, 72. 

Overbeck, history of sculpture, i. V. 

Ovolo (egg moulding), ii. 154. 
Ox, faithful treatment of, in Egyptian 
art, ii. 253. 

Paccard, l XIII. 

Painting ; Egyptian painting really illu* 
mination, ii. 332 ; how a picture was 
begun, id, ; complete absence of 
shadow, id, \ tools employed, 333 ; 
colours known, 334 , their chemical 
composition, id, \ good condition of 
Egyptian painting, 335 ; procedures, 
id, ; treatments of flesh tints, 336 ; 
distemper the true Egyptian method, 
id, ; portrait of Amasis, 336 ; easel 
pictures not unknown, ui, ; colours 
of the gods, 337 ; portraits of Queen 
Taia, id, ; decorations of tomb of 
Ptah-hotep, 341. 

Palace, the Egyptian, iL 8. 

Palestrina mosaic, the, iL 288. 

Palettes, painters', ii. 333. 

Panels, grooved, i. 115; carved do,, ii. 

Papi, L 235. 

Papyrus; the plant, ii. 125; Papyrus 
Anastasi III,, ii. 22; Papyrus Ca- 
sati, i. 159; Papyrus IV., i. 161; 
Satirical Papyri, ii. 351. 

Passalacqua ; his descriptions of mum- 
mies, i. 136, 143 ; his discovery of a 

. tomb, 293. 

Pastophorus, of the Vatican, iL 265. 

Pat, iL 185. 

Patira, iL 370. 

Pausanias, i. 268. 

Pectorals, iL 380. 

Pega, L 128. 

Peiho, L 172.' 

Pekh-hesi, on panels in tomb of Host, 
iL 189. 

Penrose, F. C, i. XIV. 

Pentaour, a scribe, i. 5 ; the poet, 266. 

Peripterd temples. Elephantine, i. 396- 
398; Eilithyisl, Medinet-Abou and 
Semneh, 402. 

Persigny, F. de, his notions about the 
pyramids, L 191. 

Perring, J. L. ; his great work upon the 
pyramids, L 195 ; his perception of the 
object of the discharging chambers 
in the Great Pyramid, 221; his 
drawings of the sarcophagus of 
Mycerinus, iL 56. 

Perspective, ii. 5, 



Petamounoph, tomb of, i. 296, 313. 

Petenef-hotep, i 159. 

Petronius, i. 44. 

"Phamenoph," L 268. 

Phtale, the Greek, il 370. 

Philip the Arab, i. 55. 

Philae, the great temple at, i. 351 ; the 
island and its ruins, 433 ; arches at, 
ii. 82 ; columns at, 104-112. 

Philo, i. 224, 232. 

Philostratus, i. 268. 

Piankhi, i. 22 ; married to Araeneritis, 
ii. 264; father of Shap-en-ap, id. 

Pier, ii 85 ; origin of the quadrangular 
P. 90 ; the Hathoric, 91 ; the Osiride, 
92 ; the stele, 93 ; the octagonal, 94 ; 
the sixteen-sided, 94-8; the poly- 
gonal, 95-8 ; with a flat vertical ban«1, 
98 ; do, with mask of Hathor, id. 

Pierret, Paul, i. 47 ; his study of the 
dogma of the resurrection, i. 135, 147, 
152, 436; ii. 63, 76, 107, 126, 170, 
227, 235, 278 ; jewelry in the Louvre, 

Pietschmann, i, 57, 147. 

Pig, in the bas-reliefs, L 219. 

"Pipes" (Theban tombs), L 255. 

Piranesi, i. VII. 

Piroli, i. VII. 

Pisani, ii. 202. 

Pis^, i. 105. 

Plans, Egyptian ground-, ii. 6. 

Plato, quoted, i. 70, 71, 84. 

Pliny, quoted, L 224, 321 ; il 76. 

Plutarch, pseudo-, quoted, i. 242, 327. 

Pluteus, ii. 149 ; at Denderah, id. 

Polishing statues, the methods of, ii. 

Polychromatic decoration ; of the 

Greeks, L XIV. ; of the Egyptians, 

necessary in their sunlight, 126; its 

. influence upon their sculpture, ii. 

Pompeii, ii. 89. 

Population of Egypt under the Roman 

Empire, ii. 26. 
Porcelain, Egyptian, i. 146. 
Porcupine, the, ii. 218. 
Portcullis stones, i. 220. 
Portraiture, the foundation of Egyptian 

art, ii. 275. 
Posno, collection of M. Gustave, 

bronzes, ii. 200; enamelled bricks, 

Pottery; potter's wheel in use during 

the Ancient Empire, ii. 367 ; Dr. 

Birch's illustrations, 367 ; arybalius., 

368 ; " Egyptian porcelain," 369 ; 
should be Egyptian faience, id ; 
colour of designs, 370 ; doorway in 
Stepped Pyramid, 372 ; tiles, id. 
Priene, L XIII. 
Priests, i. 31. 

Prisoners, Figures of, under brackets a^ 

Medinet-Abou, il 24, 94; upon 

friezes, 154 ; in the tomb of Seti I., 

348 ; upon the soles of sandals, 354. 

Prisse d'Avennes, his History^ i. 26; 

his papers, 95, 249, 356, 408 ; il S4, 

66, 80, 94, 146, 155 ; his ideas upon 

the so-called canon, ii, 319. 

Processions, i. 435. 

Profile, its almost exclusive use by 

painters, and in bas-reliefs, iL 293. 
Pronaos, i. 351. 
Propylon, i. 341-4; ii. 156. 
Proto-doric columns, i. 418 ; differences 

between them and doric, ii. 97. 
Proto- Semitic races, i. 10. 
Provincial art in Greece, i. XII. 
Psemethek I., i. 19, 38, 77, 92, 347, 
389, 430; group of, with Hathor, 
il 267 ; IL, ii. 266 ; Nefer-sam, 
Pschenty i. 16. 
Psousennes, ii. 233. 
Ptah, i. 22, 51, 54, 55, 67, 389, 430. 
Ptah-hotep, tomb of, i. 174. 
Ptali-Osiris, i. 68; Ptah-Sokar- Osiris, 
. id. 

Ptolemaic art, ii. 272. 
Ptolemy, Philopator, i. 264 ; Euergetes, 

ii. 407. 
Punt, the land of, i. 260. 
Pylon, i. 341-4; ii. 156. 
Pyramids, L 189 ; derivation of the 
word, 190; origin of, 195; com- 
parative sizes, 199; mode of con- 
structing, 201 ; cubic contents of 
Great Pyramid, 202 ; Pyramids of 
Gizeh, 206; of Dashour, id-, the 
Stepped P., 207-212; German theory 
as to the construction of the Pyra- 
mids, 208; construction of the 
Blunt Pyramid, Dashour, 210; Pyra- 
mid of Abousir, 212; of Meidoum, 
214; of Righa, 216; of Hawara, 
id. ; of lUahoun, id. ; proportions oif 
Nubian pyramids, 218; methods of 
preventing intrusion, 219 ; discharg- 
ing chambers in Great Pyramid, 221; 
colossi on pyramids, 228; Pyramid 
of Mycerinus, 329, • 
Pyramidion, i. 226; ii. 174, 



Qadech — see Kadesh. 

Quarries, i. 105. 

Quintus Curtius— see Curtius. 


Ra, i. 25. 

Ra-en-ma (Amenemhat III.), ii. 289. 

Ra-hesi, ii. 189. 

Ra-hotep, ii. 187. 

Rameses I., commences the hypostyle 
hail at Karnak, i. 378 ; honoured at 
Gournah, 392. 

Rameses II., i. 19, 22, 27, 76 ; his tomb, 
282; completes Luxor, 370; com- 
pletes the hypostyle hall at Kamak, 
378 ; builds the Ramesseum, 378-81 ; 
the temple of Abydos completed, 
386 ; the temple of Gournah do.<^ 395 ; 
causes hypogea to be excavated in 
Nubia, 405 ; also in Egypt, 406 ; 
his colossi at Ipsamboul, 410-15 ; his 
family, ii. 13 ; his obelisks at Luxor, 
171-2 ; his portrait-statues, 240, 255- 
8 ; decadence of art towards the close 
of his reign, 257. 

Rameses III., i. 22, 267; his tomb, 281; 
his templeatMedinet-Abou, 381-384; 
his pavilion,ii. 16; bas-reliefs. in which 
he is represented in his gynecaeum, 

Ramesseum, i. 266, 376, 377; ii. 97. 

Ra-nefer, ii. 203. 

Rannu, i. 64. 

Raoul-Rochette, his false idea of 
Egyptian art, i. 71. 

Rayet, ii. 182. 

Redesieh, i. 406. 

Regnier, Ad, i. 341. 

Rekmara, i. 296 ; ii. 338. 

Renan, Ernest, his opinion on the 
Egyptian language, i. 13 ; on Egyptian 
civilization, \t^\do. 71. 

Resheb, ii. 262. 

Revillout, Eug., 1. 309 ; li. 29. 

Rhsecos, ii. 317. 

Rhampsinite, i. 347. 

Rhind, Henry, his Thebes, &c., infiltra- 
tion in mummy pits, 136 ; a Burial 
place of the poor^ 160; his dis- 
covery of a tomb, 166; substitution 
of a late tenant for an early one, /V/., 
extreme length of some of the pipes, 

Rhon6, Arthur, i. 205, 291 ; his Egypte 
d petites journies, 305 ; plans lent, 
316, 328. 

Righa, Pyramid of, i. 216. 

Rings, ii. 289. 

Ritual of the Dead, i. 39, 146; cap. 
cxxv., 286. 

Rouge, de, his Memoire sur Vinscription 
dTAhmes, i. 33; ii. 170; his opinion 
upon the statues of Sepa and Nesa, 
185, 194, 228, 235. 

Rosellini, i. 406. 

Sab ACQ, ii. 27; the great door at Kamak 
repaired by him, 263. 

Sabou, mastaba.of, i. 167. 

Sais, i. 18, 309 ; its walls, ii. 41. 

Sakkarah, i. 35, 38, 42,.i3S> M3» 146, 
166; stepped pyramid, 204-15; ii. 
372 ; pyramids recently opened at S. 
i. 234. 

Salzmann, i. X. 

Sardinians, supposed ancestors of the, 
ii. 257. 

Schasou, ii. 200. 

Schenti, ii. 185, 200. 

Schliemann, Dr., his discoveries at 
Mycenae, i. 162. 

Schnaase, Carl, i. III., IV., V. 

Scribes, the, i. 30. 

Sculpture, ii. 1 80 ; the origin of statue- 
making, 180; S. under the Ancient 
Empire, 184; process of making a 
wooden statue, 197 ; groups in the 
proper sense unknown, 205 ; animals 
in S. 217, 280; extreme fidelity of 
royal portraiture, 223; S. under the 
Theban Pharaohs, 226; first ap)- 
pearance of colossi, 239; the "Apollo 
Belvedere of Egypt," 248 ; over slight- 
ness of proportions characteristic of 
the Middle and New Empires, 249 ; - 
the worst of the Saite statues national 
in style, 272 ; work under the Roman 
domination, 273 ; absence of gods 
from larger works, 275 ; religious 
statues purely votive, 276 ; statues of 
Amen and Khons not colossal, 277 ; 
the right to erect statues in the 
temples, 278 ; busts not unknown, 
279 ; technical methods in the bas- 
reliefs, 284 ; tools used in S., 303 ; 
their influence and that of materials 
upon style, 303, 306-314. 



Sebek-hotep, iL 226. 

Sebennytos, i. 18. 

StcoSy the (<n;ico9, or sanctuary), i. 352, 

357, 375» 384, 406. 
Sedeinga, i. 402. 
Sekhet, L 54, 58, 354, 406. 
Seleucus Nicator, L L. 
Selk, L 301. 
Semneh, iL 45 ; cornice of temple at, 

Semper, Gottfried, his theories upon the 

origin of decoration, ii 356. 

Sepa, ii. 184. 

Serapeum, i. 305-8; the bronzes dis- 
covered in the S. ii. 266. 

Serdab, origin of the word, i. 177, 187. 

Sesebi, iL 130. 

Sesostris, L 19, 347 ; iL 27. 

Scti I., L 29, 123, 278 ; his tomb, 280, 
389 ; carries on the Hypostyle Hall 
at Kamak, 378; begins the temple 
at Abydos, 392 ; do, Speos-Artemidos 
and Redesieh, 406; bas-reliefs at 
Abydos, iL 247. 

Seti II., iL 260. 

Shap-en-ap, iL 264. 

Sharuten, iL 257. 

Sheik-el' JSeUdy L 9 ; iL 194. 

Sheshonk, L 19; ii. 262. 

Silco, L 55. 

Siout, i. 144, 249 ; necropolis of, 252. 

Siptah, tomb of, L 281. 

Snefrou, iL 95, 184, 187. 

Socharis, L 166. 

Soldi, Emile, ii. 288 ; his explana- 
tion of the influence exercised over 
Egyptian sculpture by the tools and 
materials employed, 304, 

Soleb, iL 102, 130, 404. 

Solon, observation of a priest of Sais 
to, i. XXXIII. 

Somalis, i. 260. 

Soudan, L 218. 

Soutekh or Set, i. 68 ; iL 93. 

Spencer, Herbert, upon the conception 
of the double, L 128; upon '* primitive 
ideas," 132 ; upon the hole pierced for 
the double to pass through, 178. 

Speoi and Hemi'speoi, i. 402. 

Sphinx, types of, L 58-9 ; the great S., 
2378, 323 ; the temple of the S., 
323-7 ; controversy as to its true 
character, 327-9 ; avenues of S. 336- 
7 ; the S. of the Louvre, 61 ; iL 228 ; 
S. from Tanis, 230-3. 

Squaring, for transference and enlarge- 
ment of drawings, iL 320. 

Stark, Carl B., i. XXV., LV. 

Stele, L 155-6. 

Stepped Pyramid measurements, L 197, 
207, 212. 

Stereobate, iL 149. 

Stem, Ludwig. L 334. 

Steuart, L XXVII. 

Stobaeus, i. 307. 

Stork, the, in die bas-reliefs, iL 219. 

Strabo pjrramids, L 191 ; passages to 
mummy chamber, 192 ; pyramid of 
the Labyrinth, 227 ; Memntmiutn 
(Amenophium), 267 ; do, 279; Saite 
worship of Athene, 307 ; " Bar- 
barous " temple at Heliopolis, 323 ; 
irpoKvKioV'i 341 ; description of the 
Egyptian type of temple, 347 ; iden- 
tification of Ismandes and Memnon, 
376 ; the Memnonium close to the 
colossi of Memnon (Amenophis), id, ; 
labyrinth, iL 25 ; monolithic supports 
in labyrinth, 66 ; uses of the lotus, 125; 
description of do, id, ; height oido, id. 

Style, distinguishing features of Egyp- 
tian, iL 329. 

Supports, general types of architectural, 
iL 91. 

Susa, iL 13. 

Suti and Har, architects at Thebes, L 

Syene, i. 7, 105. 

Tabernacle, i. 352-5. 

Tahraka, i. 385 ; hypsethral temple of 

T. ii. i45» 263. 

Taia (Queen), bust of, at Boulak, iL 242 ; 
painted portrait of, in the tomb of 
Amenophis III., 337. 

Tanagra, terracotta statuettes from, i. 
XVIL, XVIIL, 162. 

Tanis, L 18; sculptured remains from 
T., iL 230-8; Roman head from T., 
274 ; sculptors* models from T., 322. 

Ta-ti-bast (Queen), ii. 362. 

Tegaea, i. XVIII. 

Telecles (sculptor), ii. 317. 

Tell-el-Amama, scene of a new cult 
under Amenophis IV., L 69 ; its ceme- 
tery on the right bank of the Nile, 
157 ;domestic architecture of Egypt 
may be well studied in the paintings 
and bas-reliefs at T., iL 5 ; the 
Egyptian house, 28 ; palace, 33i '55 J 
painted landscapes at, 287. 



Tell-el-Yahoudeh, ii. 373. 

Temple, the funerary temples of Thebes, 
i. 264-275 ; the T. under the Ancient 
Empire, 318-333 ; under the Middle 
^•» 333"3'35 } under the New do., 
335:433 J general characteristics, 434 ; 
distinction between the T. in Egypt 
and in Greece, 435-7. 

Tenteta, statue at Boulak, ii. 208. 

7>/, the, ii. 383. 

Teuffel, i. 1 1 1. 

Texier, i. IX., X., XXVII. 

Teynard, Felix, ii. 157. 

Thebes, i. 6, 16-18, 27, 65-8, 77, 89, 
122, 134-6, 1 5 1-7 ; its necropolis, 
255-317; its temples, 333-84; the 
meaning of the epithet cKard/xTrvXos, 
ii. 40. 

Theodorus (sculptor), ii. 317. 

Theophrastus quoted, ii. 125. 

Theseum, i. VII. 

Thorwaldsen, i. XI. 

Thoth, i. 63. 

Thothmes II., ii. 381, 400; Thothmes 
III., i. 19, 70, 268; Hall of T. at 
Kamak, 369, 381, 400, 406 ; his 
statues, 241 ; head in the British 
Museum, id, ; his portraits con- 
spicuous for fidelity, id. ; his porphyry 
sphinx at Boulak, 242. 

Thucydides, ii. 40. 

Ti, his tomb, i. LX, 89, 143, 148, 177, 
180 ; ii. 86 ; his offices of state, 177 ; 
his statue at Boulak, 203. 

Tiberias, kiosque, or summer-house of, 
at Philae, i. 433. 

Tiele, Prof., his manual of the history 
of religions, i. 57. 

Tiryns, il 64. 

To-deseTy i. 135. 

Tomb, the, under the Ancient Empire, 
i. 163-241 ; under the Middle do.^ 
241-254; under the New do.^ 255- 

Tomb of Osyniandias', i. 375. 

To-merahy or To-meh, i. 1 5. 
To-reSy i. 15. 
Toum, i. 68. 
Tourah, i. 204. 
Triglyphs, ii. 155. 
Tuaregs, the, i. 13. 

Turbehs^ tombs of Saite kings com- 
pared to, i. 309. 
Typhon, ii. 93 ; Typhonia, 407, 434. 


Uggeri, the Abb^, i. 104. 

Una, high official under the sixth 

dynasty, ii. 75. 
Uraeus, ii. 151, 227. 

Vases, found in the mastabas, i. 171, 
183; ii. 367; domestic V., 367-8; 
ornamented do.^ 368-372. 

Vault, i. 1 10 ; off-set vaults, 1 1 1 ; ii. 83 ; 
centred V., i. 112; V. in pise, 113 ; 
theory as to the symbolism of the 
V. in the hypogea, id. ; antiquity of 
the V. in Egypt, ii. 77; (see also 

Vedas, poetry of, i. XLIX., 50. 

Verde-antique, i. 224. 

Versailles, ii. 11. 

Villeroi, Charles, his work upon the 
columns in Greek temples, i. 96. 

Vinet, Ernest, i. XIV., XIX. 

Viollet-le-Duc, his theory as to the 
origin of the Egyptian cornice, ii. 56 ; 
upon the employment of inverted 
arches in basements, 80-2. 

Visconti, E. Q., i. VII. 

Vogu^, Melchior de, i. 73 ; his descrip- 
tion of the Boulak Museum, 90; ii. 45 
his definition of the Egyptian style 

Volute, ii. 90. 

Vyse, Colonel Howard, his great work 
upon the Pyramids, i. 195 ; his dis- 
coveries in do.y 221 ; his discovery of 
the Sarcophagus of Mycerinus, 234 ; 
his discovery and exploration of 
Campbell's tomb, 311. 



Wadi, -Siout, i. 105 ; -Seboua, 407-8; ii. 

65 ; -Halfah, ii. 42 ; -Maghara, ii. 95, 

Walking-sticks, ii. 397. 
Wallon, M., i. LX. 
Welcker, i. VI L, XXV. 
Whitehouse, F. Cope, his theory as to 

the construction of the pyramids, i. 

201 ; his theory as to Lake Moeris , 

ii. 25. 

3 K 



Wigs, ii. 203. 

Wilkinson, Sir G. ; his opinion upon the 
coating Egyptian works with stucco, 
i. 122; ii. 33, 38, 72; his theory of 
the Egyptian canon, 319, 366; con- 
stituents of Egyptian bronze, 379. 

Winckelmann, i. II., V., XV., XX., 

Witte, de, on the weighing of souls, i. 

Wolf, the, in the bas-reliefs, ii. 218. 

Woodwork, ii. 390 ; wooden furniture 

not scanty, 393 ; perfume spoons and 
other small articles, 394. 
Worship of the dead, L -128. 

XoiTE dynasty, the, i. 17. 

Zeus, i. XII. 69, 133. 
Zeuxis,i. XIV., XVI. 
Zoega, i. VII. 



In a Handsome Imperial Svo Volume, 36^. 



From the French of EUGENE MUNTZ. 

Edited by W. ARMSTRONG. 

Illustrated with 155 Wood Engravings and 41 Full-Page Plates. 

'*We have already noticed at some length the original French edition of the 
important work of * Raphael, his Life, Works, and Times,' of M. Muntz, the 
Librarian of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and we are glad now to welcome an English 
translation. A translation is never quite the same thing as the original, but for 
those — and they are many — ^who prefer an English version of a book to a French 
one, this volume may be recommended as, on the whole, a sound and adequate 
rendering of M. Muntz's work. The type and paper are excellent, and the volume 
appears in a substantial Roxburgh binding, suitable to its bulk and in good taste. 
M. Muntz is a real authority on the history of Art, and is by no means to be ranked 
among the bookmakers, who abound in that department of literature ; and his 
volume, while intended for popular reading as well as for students, is an advance on 
anything that has been done before in the biography of Raphael.'' — Times. 

"This splendid work deserves a cordial welcome. Its paper, type, and 
engravings leave little to desire. It was a hazardous undertaking to represent the 
iMadonnas of Raphael by wood engravings ; and yet it has proved successful in no 
ordinary degree. . . . With regard to the literary portion of the work, we can 
say that it is accurate, catholic in tone, and written with admirable lucidity." — 
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" The compendious and profusely illustrated volume forms a valuable addition 
to the history of art. Passavant's work on the subject, though excellent in its way, 
cannot be considered exhaustive, many important facts concerning the great master